What's frustrating about the Lakers and their pathetic 8-10 start to the season is the potential that lies below the surface, occasionally bubbling up and over like Mount St. Helens coming back for a nightcap.
The hope is that these Lakers are a basketball volcano, mixing up their various parts, players and schemes, waiting for the walking wounded to return to battle and then making that long, glorious run to the finish line which is the NBA World Championship.
For the life of me, I cannot fathom what this team is all about. They confound and confuse much more than confront and compete. Struggling hard to be the eternal optimist, there's a large chunk of me that envisions a sequel to the Karl Malone/Gary Payton experiment of 2003-04.
Those two future Hall of Famers signed with the Lakers very late in their careers with the hopes of winning their first world title playing alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. As Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said to ESPNDallas.com:
“The Lakers have done this before. Gary Payton and Karl Malone and Kobe and Shaq were all together, and it didn’t work (They lost in the Finals to Detroit). It takes great chemistry…It takes guys wanting to be there. I don’t know if all their guys want to be there.”
Cuban might have been referring to Dwight Howard at the time. But, with Mike D'Antoni now running the show in L.A., that could also mean players like Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill, both of whom appear to be less than great fits for the coach's run and gun style.
Despite the painfully slow start and despite the more than occasional lazy contributions from key players, and in spite of that fact that Lakers management hired the wrong coach yet again, the Lakers have shown signs of being an exceptional team.
Remember, L.A. has some of the best players in the game on their roster and even under the guise of new systems that don't really maximize their potential, they are still able to make big plays and give Laker Nation some hope for a 17th World Championship.
Let's take a look.