Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers continue to be ridiculed by the masses for their aggregative shortcomings this season, and can thus relate to what LeBron James and the Miami Heat had to go through during their 2010-11 crusade.
Except that Los Angeles can't relate to Miami—at least not according to James.
Per Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald, neither LeBron nor Dwyane Wade believes that the Lakers, let alone any team, will ever comprehend what the Heat had to go through during that season. LeBron said:
No one will ever be able to compare what we went through. Even though they're not winning and they're losing a lot of games, it's still nowhere near what we went through.
Yeah, right. That level of magnitude was nowhere near where ours was two years ago. Nothing. Nothing compares to it.
Here's Wade's take:
Because of everything that happened in 2010 with offseason signings, it was, automatically, just a lot of negative things that was said about us.
[Los Angeles] didn’t go through that at the beginning. They didn’t go through anything negative about bringing those guys together, so ours started off bad and it stayed bad for a while, and then we got better.
Are James and Wade alone in their belief that the scrutiny Los Angeles is facing doesn't "compare" to the hardships they faced?
Most definitely not.
The real question is, are they right? Can the Lakers not relate to what Miami faced but two years ago?
I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that James and Wade had a case here.
As Wade noted in the Miami Herald article, Los Angeles is a flagship market, one that operates under the assumption that its teams must contend for a title every year.
As such, the expectations through which the Heat were evaluated against were unprecedented for a Miami professional team. Wade had already brought the city a title, but the team wasn't used to the ramifications that came with its sudden national exposure and subsequent dissection.
Not even LeBron, who hailed from a diminutive market in Cleveland, could have predicted how much adversity the Heat would have to persevere through during the Big Three's inaugural campaign.
Naturally then, Kobe and crew cannot even begin to empathize with the Heat.
Or can they?
Well, of course they can.
The Lakers were preordained not just a title contender, but a favorite before the season even tipped off. And such standards were set knowing Dwight Howard was fresh off back surgery, Kobe Bryant had played through 16 years of injuries and Pau Gasol was in the midst of a rapid decline, mind you.
If anything, what the boys in purple and gold are facing is actually worse.
Like the Heat, they're being held to an immeasurable ceiling. Unlike the Heat, they play in Los Angeles, the brightest stage in the NBA.
And unlike the Heat, the Lakers haven't solved anything. They're still barreling along without an identity.
Miami isn't Hollywood. Not by a long shot. The expectations there—even for a star-studded Heat team—don't even begin to breach the prolific mean the Lakers are held to. I mean, Kobe has won that city five championships, and its residents still want more.
So enough with this holier than thou attitude (bordering on pity party) from Miami. James has developed into both an amazing player and person, but his judgment is severely clouded here.
Let's not forget that while LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh weren't accustomed to withstanding such grief, they did bring it upon themselves.
It was James and Bosh who plotted their great escape to South Beach alongside Wade. And, most importantly, it was LeBron who sat perched on his throne (okay, wooden chair), clad with a smirk and told the world that the Heat were going to win eight or more championships.
Did he and his posse conveniently forget about that?
Trust me, I have no sympathy for the Lakers. They too brought this genre of hype upon themselves when they acquired two superstars in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard last offseason.
That said, I still didn't see Kobe or the ever optimistic Howard burst onto a smoke-filled stage asserting Los Angeles would capture a dozen championships and then play basketball on the moon.
So, while I feel no sympathy for the Lakers, I don't exactly have any for the Heat either.
This is not to say that we shouldn't be impressed with how LeBron and the Heat have weathered through such unrelenting obstacles, because we should, just like we will be if and when the Lakers get their act together.
It is, however, an admittance that I understand that these were self-inflicted impediments that Miami was —and to a degree still is—staring down the barrel of.
LeBron and the Heat were, and forever will be, a victim of their own ambitions.
And to that, Kobe and the Lakers can certainly relate.