Alright…FINALLY the rest of the world has caught up to what I’ve been saying all along….and by all along I mean since Phil’s last season in Los Angeles:
- This team isn’t that good regardless of the glitz of the individual pieces
- Other teams ooze of confidence when playing against this team (especially at Staples)
- This Laker team is built to win in a different–although recent–era that is no longer today’s NBA (re-read that…it’s so right on).
- Dwight is overrated (at least help us win SOME games)
- Time is running out and has been for awhile
- Earlier moments in the season/preseason were far from meaningless and are going a long way now (F-you Mike Brown)
- Lack of energy and urgency as a recurring problem will eventually burn you…badly
Seriously though, I have been either hinting, saying, writing or screaming about all of these things for quite some time now (just ask the my loyal wife and my disinterested Knick-fan friends that routinely witness my meltdowns). It’s about time the media has come close to fully recognizing what’s happening here and been happening. The same problems of not containing PGs, opponents’ bench guys looking like all-stars and low-contract guys making the Laker gazillionaires look like morons as they punk them out has been going on far too long. All of this negative press–as much as it pains me and puts me in perma-bad mood–is so warranted and justified that its only appropriate. Every NBA fan that has been victimized by Laker magic has to be smiling from ear to ear.
Now…as the media, fans and rest of the basketball world has caught on, it looks like ROCK BOTTOM is finally here….It’s not that the Denver loss was as bad as the Orlando home loss (see Epic and Incriminating Loss blog post) or the Philly home loss which were both embarrassing displays against inferior opponents at critical turning point moments in the season. But something about this Denver loss has turned this story into a different depth of hell. Whether it be the injuries, the record, the upcoming schedule or a combination of all, there is a different taste this time around. Even my brother, the eternal optimist, has lost hope. That is exactly why I think–well hope–that things may turn around. This hope, however, has some sound logic behind it. Here it goes:
The Laker backs are undoubtedly against the wall, but much of the reason for that should now be gone…at least for a few games. Lofty expectations, balancing the talents of multiple stars, having a personnel-system disconnect and having the fear of failure has obviously weighed on this team and its players (especially the stars) to the tune of an underachieving 15-18 record. Those factors, however, should be gone.
In the short term at least, these expectations have been drastically reduced. ”Experts” are picking them to bow out, lose these next 3 at Houston, at San Antonio and at home vs. OKC and eventually fold up the tent. This should allow these guys, or what’s left of them, to finally play without the weight of championship medal on their backs and have some fun. The SAME kind of underdog fun all of these other teams have had against the Lakers much of the past 2 seasons.
Secondly, this undersized/undermanned group will finally fit D’Antoni’s system (by the way…the actual term “D’Antoni’s System” is so annoying at this point) and take away the pressure of balancing so many stars. Our extreme size and super-stardom will not be getting in the way for once. (Side note: Ever notice that? The Lakers plethora of size and super-stardom has done far more harm than good) Instead of trying to match his talents with established “stars” like Dwight and Pau, Nash will be able to do his Steven Nash thing of dominating the ball and making lesser players like Sacre and Meeks better (see: Gortat, Diaw, Raja Bell, Barbosa, etc). Kobe will be able to go into full TEEN WOLF mode and feel comfortable with it because there won’t be the unspoken/awkward pressure of trying to allow Dwight and Pau to do their thing. There will be no ambiguity as to where the bread should be buttered and the pecking order will absolutely not be up for discussion. Translation: more fun, more clarity, better ball.
Thirdly, the unspoken fear of failure should no longer be weighing them down. The elephant in the room is now a complete public topic in the basketball world. This team has underachieved. What they have been fearing and hiding from throughout this slow and painful train wreck of a season has now pretty much been realized and noticed by all. There is no reason to fear it anymore. We all know…it’s no longer a secret…this team stinks. So now that that is established, go out and play ball.
So…I know it’s wishful thinking but it is logical….Right? This combination of factors bringing on success is a bit of a long shot and absolutely impossible in the long term. But who knows…maybe it will be good enough to steal this one in Houston tonight or maybe even two of the next three. Then, when healthy, maybe it will finally click as rock bottom will be behind them. Other teams seem to galvanize when things get weird and the deck is stacked against them. Heck…the Lakers have been victimized by teams like that many of times. Aaron Brooks almost beat a Laker team by himself in a 7 game series when T-Mac and Yao were out (That is Aaron Brooks’ third or fourth mention in this blog’s history). Orlando–Dwight’s old team–and Philly playing without Bynum–the guy Dwight replaced–beat the Lakers at Staples this year. Dallas beat them too at Staples without Dirk.
Why can’t the Lakers turn the script for a few nights?
In Sacre We Trust,
Grabbing For Straws
P.S. I’m afraid to go back and read this in a few days.