It happens just about every Christmas.

The Lakers suck the cheer out of the day like a Boston Celtics Championship DVD.

In ’03, Steve Francis (remember him?) carved the Lakers up like Freddy Krueger. In ’04, Shaq ate Chris Mihm in his first visit to L.A. after the Kupchak fire sale. In ’05, Gary Payton – at 87 years old – demoralized the Lakers D. In ’06, Wade (40/11/4) made Kobe (16/4/2) look slower than Eddy Curry after a Chinese buffet.

And, we all remember last year, when LeBron James and the Cavs all but killed Santa with a 15-point victory at Staples Center.

If history has any say in this, yesterday’s layup drill for Miami will prove to be relatively meaningless.

In ’07, the Lakers vs. Suns on Christmas was a western conference finals preview, right? Not exactly. L.A. never saw them again on their way to the Finals.

In ’08, surely a Holiday date with the Celtics was an early glimpse at June… except it was Orlando, not Boston, waiting for L.A. in the Finals.

In ’09, David Stern, Nike and just about everyone expected a Christmas Day “LeBron vs. Kobe” appetizer, but then Boston got hot and stormed their way through the Eastern Conference playoffs, single-handedly moving LeBron to South Beach.

Christmas day matchups predict the future about as well as Bill Simmons predicts Christmas day matchups.

Let’s put things in perspective: The Lakers baffling woes on Christmas day really aren’t cause for too much concern.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about this Lakers team…

See that trophy? Let's take it.

Sure, Miami exploited some major weaknesses – they are legitimate title contenders. They should be able to do that. The real issue here is that Miami didn’t do anything the Jenning-less Bucks weren’t able to do at Staples Center last Tuesday.

That tells us one thing: The sense of panic in Lakers’ fans this Christmas is different than it has been in years past.

Yesterday’s loss wasn’t a Christmas no-show (like it was last year, when the Lakers were 23-4 heading into Christmas) – it was the continuation of a dangerous pattern in a mostly passionless, and strikingly arrogant, Lakers team.

Lamar said it best after the game, “Part of the problem is we’re cocky, we feel we shouldn’t lose any games.”

Kobe echoed the same sentiment, “These games mean more to our opponents than they do to us.”

To steal from my favorite sports movie of all time, these are the Rocky III Lakers. It took an absolute beating by Clubber Lang before Rocky realized the truth about himself.

He was soft.
He was satisfied.
He was missing the eye…

Lang was the hungry, powerful, trash-talking Miami Heat on Christmas. What happened at Staples Center yesterday was exactly what the Lakers needed.

They were humiliated.
They were booed.

But most importantly, they were threatened.

The Miami Heat came into Staples Center and said, “That trophy you have back there? We’re coming to take it away from you.”

From a distance, the Celtics, Spurs, Mavs and Magic are saying the very same thing.

The threat of failure for Kobe and the Lakers is suddenly real, and from the tone of their post-game press conference, they are finally starting to feel that.

Human nature says that if you ever want to see what someone’s capable of, threaten what’s most valuable to them and see how they respond.

We know what’s most valuable to Kobe Bryant, and if that posture infects the rest of his teammates, you can be sure that the champs may be down…

But they’re certainly not done.

  • Linda Bug

    Using Jon Benet Ramsey in your opening statement is thoughtless and cruel. There are family members that are still greiving her death, and no one has been arrested in her murder. Why do you have to bring Jon Benet’s name into a sports story? Ignorance I guess!!

    • MyJohsonisMagic

      Quit being an oversensitive ninny. Jon Benet’s parents murdered her and if you didnt know that you are pretty effin dumb.

      • yourJohnsonisnoMagic

        Actually, her parents were cleared, but good job on your level of ignorance. Quit reading People magazine and do a little research.

    • Bluraker

      What did the original post say thats offending?

    • Bluraker

      What’s said in the original post that has reference to Jon Benet Ramsey?

      • Short Dog Locs

        Right.
        I don’t know but Magic is a Laker Legend.
        Give respect where it’s due.
        This is some off the wall shiit.
        Not Laker related at all.

  • LifeLongLakerFan

    I hope you’re right Jason. I hop you’re freaking right.

  • Rich K

    Let’s consider what Lamar had to say. The fact that the Lakers were cocky. How many missed layups, missed freethrows, turnovers and missed rebounds did Lamar have? Even more disconscerting was Pau and his forced shots. He was no where to be found on rebounds. What bothers me the most is Kobe’s shooting, and his disregard for defense. He has no room to rant. I thought for the most part the Lakers played scared as the game got out of hand. Blake who is usually right on the mark had his shots go short, and many of Brown’s shots also went short. To me, it shows they didn’t have their legs under them. Finally Bynum played on the outside of the paint. When it came to rebounding especially, he didn’t fight very hard to get position.

    Phil had the right comments, they (the Lakers) weren’t in the game mentally. For them to point fingers at the others (i.e. Kobe) is simply throwing rocks in a glass house.

    • 8plus24=magic

      I happen to have read the espn article with kobes comments after the game and don’t get where he is pointing fingers when reference to the teams lost he used words like we,and us he called out the entire team including himself ( ain’t that what a leader is surpose to do?) Like ever other laker fan I’m upset not that we lost but its how we lost as well.

  • Daniel Artest

    out of bounds is right, thun. That Benet Ramsey comment is way out of bounds and unnecessary.

  • http://www.j-ri.com Jason Riley

    All – Please accept my apologies, my intention wasn’t to offend anyone, and it was clearly in poor taste. I have removed the reference, and as always, I appreciate your feedback.

    • avcpl

      I didn’t see the comments myself, but a classy move none the less.

      Not much class to be found on the internet but it’s appreciated when it is.

      Happy holidays!

  • lakersallthewayy

    I hope this was a wake up call to the players and i hope they start playing good. They need to understand that everytime a team plays them they play there best because they know there playing the defending champs, so the lakers need to play each game like its there last and step it up, if they want to win it this year. If they lost to San antonio on tues. than im not so sure about the threepeat but we’ll just have to wait and see i guess

    • 123kid

      so true. if they need motivation, then every team that is coming in to beat the champs should be enough motivation to step up.

  • LakerMarc

    Lots of things this year have been wake up calls so far, why would this one make the difference. KObe always acts like he doesn’t care what others think. ????? So I guess they will wake up when they wake up.

    • lakersallthewayy

      that might take too long, they need it now more than ever

  • http://searchingforslava.blogspot.com/ dave m

    I think the Spurs game is a line in the sand. They’re the best team in the league right now and our chief rivals in the west. We can’t make any excuse about not being prepared for them or not being familiar enough with them as a team. We have a long history with these guys and they’re essentially playing the same game they’ve played for years (only better). I don’t know what kind of shape Andrew’s really in right now but if ever we need him anchoring the post, it’s now.

  • lakers3peat

    Even if they had lost on Christmas, I would’ve been content if they had put forth some effort. I was hoping to get a good game of basketball between two good (albeit struggling) teams, but unfortunately the Lakers had different plans that night.

  • BOWWOWS A BEYATCH

    I WAS AT THE GAME ON CHRISTMAS AND ALMOST EVERYONE WEARING A HEAT JERSEY HAD A BRAND NEW SPARKLIE LEBRON JERSEY ON AND DIRTY KNEES! THEY WERE THE MOST BAND-WAGONNY FANS I’VE EVER SEEN! TOO BAD THOSE SPARKLIE JERSEY WILL BE PUT IN MOTHBALLS SOMETIME IN APRIL/MAY!

  • bitterfan

    What’s up with Kobe saying I’m going to kick some ass in practice? Before he say that, he should look in front of a mirror first since he is the one who wasn’t able to do his job. He can’t guard Dwayne Wade and he’s always freelancing in defense that lead to numerous three pointers and penetrations. Shame Kobe!!!

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