It is said that the events of the past dictate what the future holds. If you look specifically at the Lakers recent past, the last time we saw them in a game that mattered, they sat sullen on the bench, faces grim, watching their NBA Championship dreams be beaten out of them to the tune of a 39-point massacre.
Now, you may be curious as to how that moment of pain, despondency and ineptitude will define this Laker team. As I have previously stated in many a pregame article, the 2007-08 Los Angeles Lakers were ahead of schedule. The magical run to the NBA Finals should have been viewed as icing. A gift.
What I am trying to say is that the 39-point blowout-to-end-all-blowouts was the best thing to ever happen to the Los Angeles Lakers.
But, now it is the eve of the 2008-09 season, and for the Lakers, not much has changed… except for that one crystallizing moment to fuel their desire and hunger for a World Championship.
So we shift focus, as Uncle Vic the Brick would say, from the darkness of last June into the blinding light of opening night.
The Lakers come into their inaugural 2008-09 contest after a wildly successful 6-2 preseason, in which reserves Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza turned many fourth quarters into alley-oop exhibitions and Pau Gasol inflicted general fear and clamor into the rest of the league. Lamar Odom joined the second unit as well, and with a potential bench mob of Odom, Luke Walton, Trevor Ariza, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar, the Laker backup line is better than many teams starting line.
In seasons past, the Lakers have entered as fortune’s fool, be it Kobe’s trade demands or whatever drama Shaquille O’Neal decided to concoct, yet this season, the waters are calm, and it is clear that the era of good feelings is well underway.
The Lakers opponents enter their season opener as unquestionably one of the leagues most improved team. The Portland Trailblazers sport a veritable triumvirate of Rookie-of-the-Year candidates in the old-man face of Greg Oden, Spanish star Rudy Fernandez and the steal of the 2008 NBA Draft Jerryd Bayless. Add those three young pups with the other Blazer young talent, and you are looking at perhaps the “ahead of schedule” team of this NBA season.
- National: TNT (Kevin Harlan & Doug Collins)
- Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Portland: Comcast SportsNet Northwest (Mike Barrett & Mike Rice)
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Portland: KXJM 95.5 The Game-FM (Brian Wheeler & Antonio Harvey)
- Kobe Bryant: Hyper-Extended Knee
- Sasha Vujacic: Avulsion Fracture
- Andrew Bynum: Just feels good to list him here in the “will play” spot.
Coby Karl, we hardly knew ye: The Lakers will not carry 15 players on their roster going into the 2008-09 season. The team released Coby Karl, the second year guard who spent all of last season with the Lakers after being an undrafted Rookie, on Monday. I don’t know how to feel, I miss him already.
Bynum/Oden-Chapter One: The most hyped storyline in tonight’s contest is without a doubt, the first battle between young centers Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden. After years in which the league lacked quality centers, Bynum and Oden lead the charge as the top of the new class of NBA big men. Highlighted by their unique skill sets and unabashed potential to truly become dominant in their careers, this first meeting of these Western giants may foreshadow some future playoff wars.
Bench Mob 2.0: The bench mob is back. It is stronger, faster and almost unfair to the rest of the league. I don’t want to build it up too much, so I will let this bench mob speak for itself.
Varsity Challenge –
(Prize: my discarded tissues, drenched with tears from crying about the departed Coby Karl)
Prior to introducing the Lakers starting line-ups, what does Public Address announcer Lawrence Tanter tout?