Section 316 is an essay series by Writer Andrew Rafner. Andrew will explore a theme relating to the deeper world of Lakers basketball. We now present…

The Ghost

Opened up his little heart
Unlocked the lock that kept it dark
And read a written warning
Saying ‘ Im still mourning
Over ghosts that broke my heart before I met you’

- Laura Marling

It just hasn’t felt the same.

Last season, I was writing these wildly optimistic pieces about how magical it all felt.

There was something so innocent and pure about what we all witnessed last season.

I was enchanted. I was in puppy love with the Lakers for the first time in my life. I loved the emergence of Little Sash. I swooned over the homecoming of Derek Fisher. I reveled in Kobe’s Blue Period. I couldn’t stop pinching myself whenever I saw Pau in that Purple and Gold (okay, I still do that from time to time).

It seemed like the best sports fairy tale ever written: The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers were to meet in the NBA Finals.

A scenario I had only seen on worn out VHS tapes and yellowed newspapers. It all felt so right. It felt like the perfect ending to the perfect season.

Only in this fairy tale, the evil dragon killed the charming prince. And not only did the dragon kill the prince, but he roasted him alive and proceeded to lick every morsel off his bones… all in front of the beautiful princess, no less.

It seemed like a nightmare. As a city we watched our heroes be hopelessly beaten into oblivion, outmatched in every way possible. We could only stare at our televisions in disbelief and scream “THIS IS NOT HOW THIS STORY ENDS!”

And then, with but a whimper, the Lakers flew to Boston and lost by 39-points.

The script was horrifyingly flipped. Darth Vader convinced Luke to join him on the Dark Side. Mr. and Mrs. Beuller caught Ferris. Freakin’ Team Iceland BEAT the Mighty Ducks at the 1994 Junior Goodwill Games.

The pain of what happened in Boston put the Lakers, along with all of us, in this strange state of suspended animation. For some strange reason, this season just feels like an extension of last. As if the off-season was just a Tuesday-to-Thursday break.

The Lakers have unfinished business and it is weighing on them. And that is why it has not felt the same.

Last year’s Finals killed the joy, the purity, the innocence and in its place is this half formed being bent solely on rectifying their greatest failure yet being inextricably crippled by the gravity of what actually transpired.

Somewhere between last June and October we lost our way. We began operating under this false pretense that redemption is somehow owed to the Lakers. That perfection is the only option, and anything short of that perfection is failure.

And we are just their support system! Imagine what it is like to be a Los Angeles Laker.

The thing about losing in the Finals is that there is nothing afterwords. There is no second chance. They had to sit and deal with it. And I think that most of our Lakers sat with such a rotten taste for such a long time that they got a little brackish and mean and disenfranchised. They forgot the joy, the purity and the innocence of last season.

Up until last night, I could not figure out why I felt so bad about a team that had the best record in the league.

And then, I realized what it was.

It is fairly clear to me that they have the Ghost of Last June lingering over them each and every night. And it is manifesting itself in the form of blown leads, defensive regression, poorly executed offensive sets, etc.

In truth, this specter is just the enormous weight of actually achieving the greatness they simply stumbled upon last year pressing down upon them.

That is what Jordan’s misplaced cockiness and swagger is.

That is why Little Sash can’t shoot anymore.

That is why Andrew went down again. It was destiny. My friend Tim says that there is an “impression that because they lost without him, he’s the ONLY answer.”  This is not true. They need to prove to themselves that they were always capable of greatness…even without their so-called “cornerstone”.

Maybe that is why I have grown to dislike Andrew so much, because again, he missed the opportunity to experience this journey. I feel like he gets to skip the hard part while everyone else gets crippled by their responsibility and expectation.

To put it simply, I think the Lakers are scared of fulfilling what is expected of them. It’s too big.

Not even the unflappable Kobe Bryant is immune from this. There are moments when I see this terror in his eyes. Like he is experiencing a war flashback.

They all have this Ghost haunting them and with every loss and transgression, they are instantly teleported back to Boston on June 17, 2008. Forced to relive the Green and White confetti drop upon their heads.

Forced to remember the flight back home. Exiting the plane empty-handed without the slightest idea of what had just happened.

Forced to again hear the collective cries of a city that loves them so deeply.

It weighs upon their souls and it has affected the way they play.

There is something profound happening to our cherished franchise and we have been ignoring it for the last six months, choosing instead to focus on frivolous regular season contests, getting caught up in wins and losses and injuries to young Centers.

Turning a blind eye to the real story.

When I was a little kid, my step-dad told me that every time you get hurt emotionally, there is a hole inside you that grows larger and larger, and that it is in our nature to refuse to confront the hole, only to find things to fill it.

The Lakers have decided to fill their hole with this misdirected quest to have the best record in the league, when in reality there is only one thing that is going to make them whole again; Only one thing to exorcise this spirit that haunts them and plunges them into an endless abyss of self-doubt.

There is only one way their quest will end. There is only one way that the sadness will stop. There is only one way to bring the joy back.

There is only one way.

And they are going to have to do it without Andrew.

The only way the ghost will go away is if they beat the Celtics in June…and they just might have to do it in Boston, too.

It is their destiny.

  • DeepFrost

    good read… I really liked it, dude… and I bet not only I did :)

  • Tim M.


  • dawg


  • toolake2handle


  • Jonny

    stop making love to my mind!!!

    yeah, i like andrew more than you do, but i agree with the premise of your article

  • sugam

    your pissing me of with your laker hatred lately rafner. your not doing your job as a fan if you dont believe.

  • sugam

    andrew, youve always been one of my faves, but lately it just seems like you dont believe, which is fine. but it gets worse becasu it also seems like you already think they wont win it all so your saying this stuff to seem smart if it does happen. im personally offended becuase i think we are incredibly talented and this is our year.

    write back. i know you will.

  • sydney

    please stop writing this crap. you and other simple minds might be impressed with your overworked and grandiose analogies, but seriously its mostly fluff with little point.

    a ghost?
    darth vader?
    a dragon?
    ferris bueller?
    your step dad?

    Is there any other you want to add? Maybe a piece of crap which could be analogous to your article?

    It weighs on their souls? Are you kidding me?

    And by the best team in the league is allowed to loose games, it happens. stop trying to convince yourself that their loss in the finals is the reason they play poorly some nights

  • Mitch4Pres

    rafner is back on track with this one

  • lafanfromindiana

    This guy sounds like a b!tch like Earl does in the chatbox during games.

  • lafanfromindiana

    I was just joking about the above comment. It’s a good read and I only mentioned Earl because he said something yesterday about his real name being Andrew… I think.

  • ilikebasketball

    [Comment ID #65104 Will Be Quoted Here]

    you sound like your from indiana.

  • Ilikebasketball

    I think you are right. but i think you are right, and it’s that gnawing at their minds that makes them want to skip past these small games and get to the championship alread. it’s impatience to settle a score. And i think the younger guys, like farmar and sasha, can’t hold their heads. Yes, the demon of last year is haunting them. But they have to realize that these games are all apart of getting back to them. This world isn’t a fairy-tale. There is no destiny or fate. There is nothing that says the lakers are owed this(ask a cavaliers fan). And every single game should be a piece of that redemption, every single game should make them feel better about themselves after the sorrow of last year. But they don’t play like that. They only play like that when they play big teams. So will we go into the playoffs with a bench that just wants to fastforward and get to the championship? What if we do get to the finals and we play the Cavs, will the bench not have the same excitment becuase it won’t be straight payback? Every game should be a redemption game. Getting the best record in the league should be apart of paying back Boston for that humiliation. The reason last year was magical was because we weren’t even supposed to have made it past the first round when the year started, but we made it to the finals. This year, the lakers need to grow up. This isn’t a fairy tale, and grudges only work if you understand that success is the best revenge. You can’t wait for a rematch with that person that wronged you, you must make every single person that crosses your path take the form of that person that wronged you. After that last win against the cavs, it’s like we’ve been waiting for the finals, or playoffs, to come. And it’s shameful.

  • alex

    [Comment ID #65096 Will Be Quoted Here]

    I agree with you.
    Pointless article.
    Really stupid.
    Also, they are not going to do it without Andrew Bynum you idiot, he is coming back soon.

  • dawg


  • chad

    Can we pull a surviver and vote this guy off the website?

    Or at least make him post as whom he truely is a fair weather fan. It sounds like this guy is a wuss as well.

    Last year was a great year for us we actually over achieved and arrived a year early. We gained some powerful experience and set the table for our very young team to go for another run at a dynasty.

    This year we are the real deal. The season has ups and downs. Don’t be a fair weather fan and freak out when we lose. Man your a punk!

    This team has been so much fun to watch. Enjoy the ride. We are going to have our championship this year. And if you don’t feel me then do all of us real fans a favor and jump on someone elses bandwagon.

    Lakers 2009!

  • Triple Ocho

    [Comment ID #65096 Will Be Quoted Here]

    This sums it up. He has all these analogies that for whatever crazy reason, a few individuals seem to think they are “GODLY”, when this article is plain and simple trash. Honestly, take this guy off the site. The website had him off for a while. They finally took him off the podcast. They let Chris Manning actually speak without being interrupted by Rafner. You are not a good writer, end of story.

  • The Lakeshow

    i teared a lil… no homo

  • MaMbA2487

    i feel we shouldn’t dog this kid so much, but at the same time andrew… well let me say this, read what you just wrote…. find me in person… look me in the eyes…. and tell me you really believe the crap that you just wrote down lol, i mean come on man, they win it with andrew bynum this year and they will be extatic… so your saying next season if they win this year that the next season they will be sad again cause it was with andrew?? think about that for like just 3 seconds, also the only thing that can help there dark soul if they have one to be honest with you is Jesus Christ…. there dark soul(s) if they have one has nothing to do with the championship loss last year, so anyways i said what i had to say… later

  • Tim M.

    [Comment ID #65136 Will Be Quoted Here]

    I mentioned “godly” because this is stuff you can’t really find anywhere else. dumbass columns are a dime a dozen, Andrew’s stuff is more than that. It’s a break from the garbage the papers feed us every day. Sec. 316 gives me a different feel when i’m reading… like i’m reading something with weight–something with substance.

    As far as the point, I agree. As a fan, it feels like we’re all stuck running into the wall, trying so so hard to top last season, so so hard to get HCA throughout, so so hard to right the wrongs.

    Like it or not, we’re stuck in unfinished business mode, and we’re not getting out of it without a ‘ship.

  • Shareef Davis

    I agree with CHAD last year we overachieved. A seasons expectations determines how mature fans feel about the outcome. We started the season a team that had,

    been bounced two years in a row in the first round of the playoffs.

    A young product named Andrew we thought would take two more years to be develop into Willis Reed or Michael Olowokandi (We really didn’t know).

    Jim Buss leaking crap to the press

    NO answers on would Odom become consistent.

    a back up “shooter” who looked like he should be an extra in a European porn

    and Kobe demanding a trade.


    ended the season in the finals with

    a 7 footer who runs like a gazelle and can get 20 and 9 a night.

    a young product on the way to being what Greg Oden should have been

    Jim Buss being what my girlfriend would be “Quite”

    full knowlege that Odom would be consistently inconsistent ( hate him or love him he is what he is)

    Sasha still looking like he should do Euro-Porn


    how is that season a disappointment.

    Rafner for mature fans last season was like being a 40 year old virgin. being so depressed about it you were gonna jump out a window. Then Jenna Jameson appeared out of no where kissed you and gave you a hand job……THEN LEFT.

    Look your still a virgin but now your not killin yourself got HOPE!
    This is the season with pressure because we have higher expectations.

    (Take that analogy RAF!!)

    Please lets not bash Rafner so harshly. Its a free site that means your free not to read it….I guess that means your free to bash him as well.. well in that case I kinda think you can do better RAF. I like your stuff but I want to love it..take me higher.


  • Farmabrick

    Remember, losing SHOULD hurt. If it felt good, then who would care about winning? Even in the Magic Showtime Era, the Lakers lost FOUR finals series despite winning five, and I remember every single one of them and they STILL hurt. But, Rafner, you can’t be afraid of winning just because losing hurts so much, or you won’t try at all. All you can do from a loss is learn, a take that learning and go out and win. Accept the pain and the winning feels all the better.

  • WifelovesLuke

    What a stretch you are making young man. You are way over analyzing things. New year, higher expectations, most home games in first half of the season and a hellacious 7 game road swing coming. THAT’S IT!

    The problem with your ghost of basketball past analogy is that the Lakers won’t even see Boston again this year. It’s going to be Lakers-Cavs in the finals with Kobe showing prince Lebron who is King of the Court. Oh, and we’ll win the Ship this year WITH Drew! Now go play with your HeMan toys!