Out of Bounds: The Crazy Gene

Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

Getting to the very top of anything probably means you’re a little bit crazy. Why do you think just about everyone in Hollywood is slightly cracked out?

Would you even be remotely surprised if Lindsay Lohan were on trial for murder? Will Ferrell got engaged to a farm animal? Megan Fox discovered a way to sleep with herself? Chris Brown beat up his girlfriend – oh yeah, that actually happened. Chances are, none of those things would be all that shocking.

For most of us, it defies our human tendencies to be crazy enough to really kick someone while they’re on the ground. Imagine playing in a rec-league basketball game, you’re up fifteen with about ten minutes to go and your teammate walks into the huddle and says, “Let’s devastate this other team, I mean really humiliate them. Let’s press them until the buzzer sounds. I want to win by seventy. I want their girlfriends to break up with them after watching the end of this game.”

Crazy, right? Yep. And that’s precisely the kind of crazy the Lakers are missing. If we want to see another gold banner hanging from the rafters at Staples Center, the Lakers are going to need to be a little more like Jason Voorhees and a little less like Wall-E.

Take a page from Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls. The year (’95-’96) they raped the NBA and went 72-10 was literally crazy. It takes a little bit of psycho to do this to your opponents after the regular season is basically over:

Charlotte, 126-92.
Detroit, 110-79.
Boston, 107-75.
Philadelphia, 112-82.

The old Celtics teams were crazy. Leading up to the ’84 Finals, do you think they felt bad about having beaten the Lakers all seven times they had played each other for a championship? Not a chance. Human nature was completely overshadowed by what I like to call the crazy gene, and that’s exactly why they made it a perfect 8-0 that season. Even the new Celtics team displayed the crazy gene in their 39-point demolition of the Lakers in Game 6 of last years’ Finals.

Here’s a scientific explanation of how the crazy gene functions when it’s dormant in the body:

When satisfaction is released in the body (a marginal lead) it causes a deep sense of relaxation (sloppy play). During this period of intense relaxation (usually in the second half), the previous release of satisfaction (a marginal lead) begins to diminish, causing an increased sense of desire to regain that dwindling feeling of contentment (late runs in the closing minutes). When this increased sense of desire results in the intended satisfaction (a win), the body remembers this and becomes comfortable with the internal process (blowing leads, only to regain them at the end).

Who knew science could explain the Lakers so well? If Phil Jackson can find a way to activate the crazy gene in the Lakers’ system, science and history show that it would function like this:

When satisfaction is released in the body (a marginal lead), the crazy gene is activated, obstructing the sense of relaxation (sloppy play) that usually follows. The body responds by maximizing its backup resources (the second unit) to create a heightened sense of satisfaction (an even bigger lead) in search of the missing period(s) of relaxation. During this process, the crazy gene begins to expand, causing the non-working resources of the body (the starting unit) to be re-invigorated with desire to increase their satisfaction (an even bigger lead) in an attempt to find a new, more lasting type of satisfaction (a win). As long as the crazy gene remains active, the body repeats this process until the crazy gene is forced into dormancy by an overwhelming number of periods of satisfaction (ridiculous number of wins).

Phil Jackson alluded to this very thing after the Lakers’ almost blew Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks: “I thought we had perhaps a better killer instinct early in the year, If it was 15 we tried to extend it to 25 and tried to take the heart out of teams early in the year. Right now, I think that we have kind of played around with teams at times and allowed them to stay around in games. This was one of them today.”

In other words, the Lakers are missing a certain element in their DNA. At-least we know we’re in the right city for maximum exposure to that crazy gene.

Let’s just hope they find it before June.

Jason Riley is a columnist for the Lakers Nation. In addition to this column, he writes on an array of topics that you can check out by visiting J-Ri.com. You can email him by clicking here, or look him up on Facebook.

Jason Riley is the executive director of LakerNation.com. He also pens a regular opinion column, Out of Bounds, and is the co-host of Voice of the Nation: Fastbreak. He currently splits his time in Los Angeles, CA and Carlsbad, CA.
  • Diehardfan

    Also a big part of there deamenor is that a team takes on the personality of it’s coach or the leader on the floor or both. Just look at Magic’s Lakers and Jordan’s Bulls. In regards to the team taking on Phil’s personality just look at his cool demeanor on the bench. He get’s upset when he has to and never over-coaches. Those teams played the way their coaches and leaders played. But at the same time nothing causes that fire in a player or a team like the frustration of losing. Just look at the reaction of the Laker’s victory in Boston during the regular season. That game meant more because of what Boston did to them. The humiliation of last years finals left the Lakers with a sour taste and that pain is going to carry them in the playoffs. Finally, i’m just going to add that the reason why the Celtics of last year won was because the big three had been such BIG losers all their careers and neither one of them had been to the FINALS so they were hungrier. But, this time it is the Lakers who are hungrier. Besides, Kobe’s personality alone will be enough drive to win it all!

  • Sean All Ivy

    We def need a bigger killer instinct but I have full confidence that we will click it up a few notches when the post season comes around. Good article!

  • http://myspace.com/sonicussj Whatsa

    I think the Lakers are sparked with the crazy gene when it needs to come.

  • WifelovesLuke

    Great read. All the science stuff was well thought out. A lot of kids out there have all the talent in the world but without a killer instinct, they’re just talent without success. Magic had it, Bird had it and Michael OWNED it!

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