Whether blinded by the gobs of talent that the team acquired or reminded of the instant returns of the super teams assembled in recent seasons, the expectations set forth for the 2012-13 L.A. Lakers were more than impossible to reach.
Well, impossible to reach through the season's first 10 games, that is.
As Dwyane Wade reminded nba.com's Fran Blinebury, the star-studded South Beach trio experienced their own trying times when they were assembled just two seasons ago. Like the Lakers, that Heat team took their own lumps in the season's early stages.
And they took those lumps despite a full complement of superstars or having to learn a brand new offensive system.
L.A.'s 1-4 start may be the obvious kindle in the firestorm that cost coach Mike Brown his job. But the franchise's condensed leash and sharp reprimand suggest that the organization was never confident in Brown's ability to handle this team in the first place.
Given new coach Mike D'Antoni's history with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, it looks like Brown's termination was more the result of a better fit for D'Antoni and less of a depressed panic button.
Sure, John Q.
Public was less-than-impressed with the team's performance. But that impending urgency felt among the talk-radio shows and blogosphere never permeated in the Lakers' locker room. After all, these students of the game understood that what they were trying to accomplish was far from unprecedented.
There's an adjustment period every season for every NBA franchise. With players' tenures in cities lasting as long as the latest Apple technology, there are so many moving parts for organizations to account for. Faces change on the floor and in the front office. There are new systems to learn, new roles to inherit and new teammates to discover.
No matter the experience of this Lakers core or their familiarity with each other, this team was no more immune to a transitional period than Wade's Heat.
The addition of D'Antoni (who debuted in tonight's game against the Brooklyn Nets) will bring about its own adjustment period. The same goes for the impending return of Nash.
True/False: The L.A. Lakers will win the 2012-13 NBA Championship.
The exciting thing for Lakers fans is the fact that this adjustment period has gone about as smooth as possible.
That 1-4 start was followed with a 4-1 stretch. L.A.'s plus-5.0 scoring differential is tied with Brooklyn for fifth best in the NBA. And that's with Mike Brown and Bernie Bickerstaff running the show and Steve Blake, Darius Morris and Chris Duhon running the point.
Kobe Bryant has seemingly lengthened his lead on Father Time with an MVP-caliber 26.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.5 steals. Dwight Howard (still recovering from back surgery) has muscled his way to 20.0 points (on 60.8 percent shooting), 11.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. The team's already tied for the sixth most potent offense with the New York Knicks (100.5 points per game) and the offensive guru, D'Antoni, has yet to grace their sidelines.
The Lakers have their issues (most notably a razor thin bench), but they still have that incredible pool of talent that had the basketball world salivating for most of the summer. It's hard to fathom that there are too many people predicting their demise with Brown's departure.
The bottom line is that Wade's not worried about this rough patch and neither are the Lakers.
Perhaps it's time for the rest of us to play catch-up.