Another Keith Olbermann-style Special Comment on Laker Basketball:
After eighteen games and sixteen victories, the denizens of the Lakers Nation, should be beginning, for all intents and purposes, to hear the sounds of settling.
After eighteen games and sixteen victories, we should have a firm grasp who this team is and how we should expect them to play on any given night.
While my rallying cry last season was that this Laker team was ahead of schedule, and my espoused ethos during much of the beginning of this season was that their time had finally come to run rampant over the league, I would be remised if I did not say that while the expectations are not diminished, the events of the last week have sent a rather strong message to this writer.
With a loss in Indiana and a near miss in Washington, it seems as if the Lakers have gotten a case of the ol’ bighead. The coronets were sounding; the plush red carpet had been rolled out and the regular season was seemingly reduced to a formality.
And then the stark and salient truth hit: it is December and there are still 64 games to be played in the regular season. And regardless how inevitable success seems, the number one, most important principle of sports still remains: The other team has players and coaches too.
It is irrelevant and asinine to expect a 30-point blowout every night. It is unfair to place such a heavy burden on a young team to topple the venerable 1996 Chicago Bulls.
It is too much.
We, the collective fan base, have gone too far.
We have forsaken the rollercoaster that is an NBA season in favor of an unbridled “win forever” attitude. And that is not what fandom is predicated on.
Fandom is not stridently predicting and expecting victory every night. Fandom is being able to recognize weakness, and right now, for the first time in this infant season, the Lakers look weakened. Their defensive intensity that was a hallmark of their early season success has all but evaporated, their super-bench unit has developed a propensity to give up big leads opposed to expanding them, and most importantly, the Laker swagger has seemed to disappear.
Now, while all of these things have been transpiring it is important to note that the team still finds a way to win, yet, these recent victories have seemed more like an endurance test than a true pronouncement of their will and fortitude.
Tonight the Lakers face a Milwaukee Bucks team that posses weapons that expose each and every one of their weaknesses. A pixie point guard with speedy speed (Luke Ridnour), an athletic swingman (Richard Jefferson), a three-point marksman (Michael Redd) and bruising, ball-smacking, angry Eastern Conference forwards (Andrew Bogut, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Malik Allen, and etc.).
The Milwaukee Bucks, though not an Eastern Conference contender, have a multitude of weapons that can stifle the Lakers, especially in this moment of weakness.
There is also the chance that this temporary malaise ends tonight, and the Lakers regain their defensive anger and the bench relocates that voracity that was the real reason that the Lakers have rolled to a startling sixteen victories in eighteen games.
AUTHORS NOTE: If you are at STAPLES Center tonight, swing by Section 316 and come say hi! I’ll be right in the front row.
See you kids there.
Tipoff: 6:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Milwaukee: FS Wisconsin (Jim Paschke & Jon McGlocklin)
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Milwaukee: WTMJ 620 AM (Ted Davis & Dennis Krause)
Lakers: None to report.
- Questionable: Charlie Bell (ankle)
(Prize: Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman)
According to Rock legend Alice Cooper, Milwaukee is the only major American city to have done what?