When you see the words “Varsity Shootaround” above a pregame article you have come to expect a certain tone: Light, airy, and irreverent.
I’ll probably make some joke about how Rajon Rondo looks like a kitty cat or how Doc Rivers’ face looks like it is made of a Fruit Roll-Up.
I will most likely write about Kobe and Phil. I’ll express my hope that Lamar Odom decides to play basketball on that given night. I will give you storylines. I’ll offer a silly prize for the winner of the trivia challenge.
I usually have a structure. A formula that I try to follow to provide the Lakers Nation with a pregame primer that may or may not provide some gem of wisdom that has not been spouted off about already. I try to convey hope and optimism to the people (I do not do this as well as Vic the Brick, but hell, I try).
Not for Game 5 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
Not after the Boston Celtics “ruined rock and roll and strangled everything we love about it” (Lester Bangs said that in Almost Famous), coming from 24-points back to topple the Lakers championship hopes and dreams, in what may have been the biggest loss in Los Angeles sports history (I dare you to find a more crushing blow). And as the millionaires in Staples Center went on to Les Deux or their palatial estate, their Lakers were bleeding internally.
Their Lakers, who have shown remarkable poise and valor when faced with adversity this season, are now faced with the ultimate adverse situation: win, or go home.
Win, or go home. Win, or no parades. Win, or no ring. Win, or no glory. Win, or no car flags. Win, or leave the city in smoldering dust, with all Angelenos sitting on street corners in Thousand Oaks or in Compton or in Los Feliz thinking about what could have been. Win, or go home.
A staff member on a Celtic’s fansite called RedsArmy, much like TLN, wrote that the events of Thursday night made the rivalry real. He wrote that the old grainy video no longer mattered. The clothesline and the baby hook shot were just memories. This generation of Laker fans now have a galvanizing and crystallized moment to say when their hate for the Celtics began to simmer, not the hate of their parents or grandparents (seriously, that is how old this rivalry is). And so it begins, in Game 5. The Lakers chance to make this generation of Celtic fans hate them.
Is Game 5 the death rattle? The last gasp? The last grope? Or, is it something more than that? Is it the beginning of the grand-finale-super amazing- jaw dropping trick these Lakers have up their sleeve for this magical 2007-08 season?
If these Lakers are who I think they are, on June 19, I will proudly write the greatest words in sports: Game 7.
Win, and make history.
National: ABC (Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy & Mark Jackson)
Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
Boston: WRKO 680 AM (Sean Grande & Cedric Maxwell)
- Out: A. Bynum (Knee)
- Will Play: K. Bryant (Pinkie)