The Day My Earth Stood Still.
It is official. Mark this day down. In Chicago, January 9, 2013 will be remembered for a few reasons, at least personally.
• It is 37 outside, but feels like 67.
• I knew I had an easy day at work (one that allowed me some down time to type this).
• Basketball practice for my 7/8th grade boy’s team, and after a successful practice on Monday, I am excited to continue that today.
• The day after I watched the Lakers blow a double-digit lead and get Lin-saned (or, Hardenized. Or Morrised.)
• The day I realized that these Lakers are plain mediocre.
Let me list a few fan bases that I am officially jealous of. Utah. Golden State. ‘Sota. Milwaukee. And here is the WORST one: Chicago. Why? Because they have better records than the Lakers. Yes, Lakers fans have enjoyed 16 championship wins. We have had a consensus top 5 player for the last, what? 15 years? (First Shaq, then Kobe.) And at one point, TWO top 5 players (I see you, 2002). But that simply does not change the fact that I am jealous of the fan base that I despise the most. Chicago Bulls Fans. My hometown team. And my least favorite.
My “friends” around town are enjoying rubbing this in my face. Thankfully, they know that I am one of the lesser obnoxious Laker fans around so they just give me enough flack to make me cringe.
“You have KOBE! He should be able to win with you and me out there!” (Uh, not really, but at least they think THAT highly of Kobe Bean.)
“Gasol is the best big man in the game! He should get 20-12 every night!” (…Yes, yes he is. And yes, yes he should.)
“You guys traded for Howard! He’s the best defensive player!” (I beg to differ. The Association thought Chandler was!)
“You have the best point guard in the league!” (REALLY? But what about all the talk about Rose being the best EVER!)
“You have FOUR hall of fame players! What other team can say that?!” (…Us in 04…Celts in the 60s…oh, I’m not helping myself…)
But that last point is the biggest culprit. It’s the reason behind why we, as fans, are having a hard time with this season. Why we can’t understand how a team made up of so many players with so many past (and future) accolades can’t play AT MINIMUM .500 ball.
You hear that, Los Angeles? I JUST WANT YOU TO BE THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS!
From a personal standpoint, I accepted last season. I did NOT accept the Mavs sweep in 11. But after the second round last year, I accepted our future. I knew the dynasty was coming to an end. I knew that Kobe, and Pau, and Ron (I will always call him Ron. The same way I will always call Puff Daddy “Puffy” instead of “Diddy”) would continue to battle for another season. But we were old. We were slow.
And then we got Nash. And I talked myself into another run for at least one more season. I didn’t care that we went from a young, quick point guard in Ramon Sessions who showed enough in a small sample for me to become a fan to Nash, someone who I always remember never being able to SIT on the bench during games, instead opting to lay down on the baseline. IT’S STEVE NASH!
Then…we traded for Dwight. Oh. My. God. DWIGHT! I remember thinking, “We can easily put Hill at the 4!”…Then I found out that we got Howard WHILE KEEPING GASOL!
I booked my Finals tickets (metaphorically. I can’t afford that!). I put down money on them in Vegas (metaphorically. I can’t afford that!). I re-upped for another season of League Pass so I can watch them always (literally…I CAN afford that).
Then we went 0-8 in pre-season and I cared about as much as I care about the economic state of Russia. Even AFTER we started the season the way we did, I only recently began to panic. And then last night happened. I was sitting on my coffee table (yes, I know) a mere 3 feet away from the game and I watched the Rockets come back and eventually win.
And I knew. I knew that UNLESS something…clicks with them, we would “fight” for a 7th or 8th seed (best case scenario-5th) and maybe squeeze out a first round upset before maybe winning 1 or 2 games in round 2. As a storied fan base like ours, THAT is what we are relegated to. Hoping for a second round exit.
And again, this all began last night and clicked this morning. And I am okay with it. I really hope that (a la Celtics) Kupchuk gives these guys one more swing. One more puncher’s chance. As a fan, I am okay with that. We can rebuild in 3 years. After Kobe leaves. Let Kobe go out the way we always knew him to be: fighting. And I’ll go out the way I know how: turning my living room into courtside seats, imagining my dog to be Jack, and cheering for a banner.