For as much as we talk about greatness around here, we sure do complain an awful lot when we’re presented with the rare opportunity for it.
The idea of greatness is subjective, but is most commonly expressed about an individual – or in this case a team – when factual critics are silenced, long odds are overcome and the seeming impossible is achieved.
We don’t witness greatness very often because of those very things.
Long odds become stacked up based on accurate data. Critics boast their opinions around real-life observations. The impossible seems impossible because it demands something invisible; and when it comes to logical thinking, evidence is everything.
In 82 games, the Lakers showed a lot of evidence – very little of it an indication of greatness. 57 wins was a far cry from the 70 we boasted of in October. A rested and rejuvenated Kobe Bryant looked everything but rested and rejuvenated. The mentally tough road team of last years’ champions seemed to falter under the weight of the newly acquired target that had been tattooed on their backs. Suddenly, the critics began to dismiss them as the soon to be ex-champions…
While they struggled to find themselves, the rest of the western conference seemed to take notice. The surging Dallas Mavericks embezzled All-Star Caron Butler and Brenden Haywood. The once elderly San Antonio Spurs, led by a recharged Manu Ginobili, rewound the clock and were arguably the best team over the last month of the NBA season. The Phoenix Suns, a team many thought would miss the playoffs, sprinted their way back into contender status. Suddenly, the odds began to pile higher and higher against the puzzling Lakers…
We can be frustrated by the obvious struggles. We can doubt their ability to find a way back to the NBA Finals. We can curse, yell and verbally assault our TV sets when they struggle. We can say this wasn’t how it was supposed to be…
But this is exactly how we wanted it.
The critics barking, the odds stacked high, the King being prematurely crowned…
Without the mountain of adversity to climb, the top of the mountain is really just a boring pile of grass and dirt. It is the injuries, the mounting odds, the ranting critics and the daring competition that have set the stage for a rare opportunity to make a run at greatness. As proud Lakers fans from all over the world, we wouldn’t have our journey to banner #16 any other way.
There are only two headlines that will describe the ’09-10 Los Angeles Lakers:
1 down, 15 to go…[P.S. - Be sure to follow me on Twitter during the postseason!]