Talk about high expectations.
The city of Los Angeles not only expects its new-look Lakers to win an NBA title this season, it also predicts that Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Kobe Bryant will revive the local economy, fix the school system, speed up the 405 freeway expansion and lower gas prices by 40 cents per gallon.
And that's just in the first year.
The pressure is on, and the Lakers responded by going 0-8 in the preseason. The games don't count, but in Hollywood, perception is reality and the perception today is that Mike Brown's team has a whole lot of stars seemingly playing on different planets.
Don't worry, be happy, say the players. The Lakers will be fine, says Brown (via Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times), who most certainly is on the hot seat if his team can't get past the second round of the playoffs this year.
"What we're doing right now isn't necessarily to win the games now or in the short term," Brown told Pincus after the team lost to the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night. "Hopefully what we're doing will pay off in the long term when it really counts."
Sorry, but don't the games in November count the same as ones in February or March? A win is a win, regardless of when you get it. To say your team doesn't necessarily look to win games early in the year sounds a bit out of touch.
But from all the smiles and laughter, one might think the Lakers went 8-0 in October. Nash and Howard grace the cover of Sports Illustrated's NBA Preview edition this week, flanking a headline of "Now This is Going to be Fun".
So far, not so much. The team looks disorganized and out of sync. Haven't we seen this picture before? Blame it on the Princeton and new combinations of new players, say the coaches.
So expect the unexpected in 2012-13 from the Lakers. This is a team that, on paper, looks like a powerhouse. How will it look on the court come playoff time next spring?
Will Howard and Nash still be smiling? Read on.