NBA: How These Star-Studded Lakers Resemble the 2012 Boston Red Sox
So the Lakers have won back-to-back games. Start polishing off the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Is this not what we hear every time they win a little? Kobe has back-to-back 14 assist games, Dwight Howard says they're starting to figure it out. Yada yada yada.
The roller coaster season this team is on bares a striking resemblance to one other team: the 2012 Boston Red Sox.
Much is left to be written for the Lakers, but halfway through the season things are unraveling heavily.
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The Lakers' faithful were spoiled for years and years by the sheer dominance and demeanor of Shaquille O'Neal. After that, they were treated to the enigmatic, yet very effective, Andrew Bynum, who also had a mean streak.
In comes Dwight Howard, the fun-loving big man with the million-dollar smile. It is troubling to watch the team under-perform so drastically and still see Dwight complaining about foul calls, laughing after air-balling free throws, and seemingly not being as hungry to win as you'd want your superstar center to be. He appears to be struggling to fit in at the moment, from the well-documented feud with Kobe to the recent immature act of doing a post game interview with a stat sheet.
In the 2010 offseason, the Red Sox needed a significant upgrade. They threw $142 million to bring in Carl Crawford and made a high profile trade for superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. In the baseball haven that is Boston, fans are ruthless. Crawford kept hurting himself by trying to come back from injuries too early due to the pressure, and just admittedly could never handle the overwhelming stress of baseball in Boston.
After their well-documented collapse in 2011, Gonzalez said it just wasn't in God's plans for them to win. His mild manner never quite went over well with the fans, even though he did produce on the field.
The new guys provided stark contrasts to past superstars on each of these teams. An enormous amount of pressure is put on their shoulders and they are expected to adapt rather than being themselves, and sometimes it just does not work out.
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Turn on SportsCenter right now. Check that side-bar of topics and I'll bet there is at least one Lakers story up there.
With these two franchises, their off-the-field problems were just as documented as what they did on the field/court. It is not too far-fetched to think that the brutal media scrutiny affected their play. The media has latched onto these two teams from day one, with all the experts predicting them to win it all.
From the slightest argument between teammates, to one little unorthodox comment to a journalist, everything anyone on these teams says is front-page news. There are no closed doors, as every team meeting is well documented.
Having to answer the same questions after every loss can add up. All the media backlash can collectively help send the team into a downward spiral, which is exactly what appears to be happening in L.A.
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The Lakers brought in Mike D'Antoni to be their savior. They threw all of their blame at Mike Brown, and the whole team conspired against him until he was fired very early in the season. All was supposed to be well, as D'Antoni is an offensive genius, so there was no way he couldn't get the best out of Kobe, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
The Red Sox fell apart at the end of 2011, as according to the media they were all eating fried chicken and getting drunk during all the games. All of the blame for this was pinned on manager Terry Francona, who had seemingly worn out his welcome after a magical tenure as head coach. The team brought in former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, a polar opposite to Francona's mild demeanor.
Immediately upon arrival in L.A., Pau Gasol was upset with coming off the bench. In Boston, Valentine decided to call out team leader Kevin Youkilis.
As the seasons went on, we learned things never changed. Both coaches are still overrated, with D'Antoni not quite figuring out how to get his guys to play defense, and Valentine not quite sure how to keep his overbearing personality from tearing down the team.
Steve Nash immediately broke his leg. Dwight has a torn labrum. Pau got a concussion. Jordan Hill is out for the year. Even Mike D'Antoni had a knee injury. Steve Blake stepped on a parking lot spike...sorry, I couldn't resist.
The Red Sox seemingly didn't have a single healthy player make it through the season last year. Their disabled list was about as crowded as Fenway Park itself during their usual sellouts.
For whatever reason, both teams were decimated by injuries. If they can remain healthy, the Lakers can make a second-half run. That is a big "if."
If their "Big 4" can gel together they will be in good shape. Unfortunately, Red Sox fans know all too well how disheartening it is to put so much faith into hypotheticals. Last season, Crawford missed the first three months, then was shut down shortly before being traded. Kevin Youkilis got injured and then rookie phenom Will Middlebrooks broke his wrist months after replacing him. David Ortiz played the fewest games of his Sox tenure...well, you get the point.
This is the one area where these teams differ, as the Lakers still have the rest of their script to write. It is possible they can right the ship, but don't get your hopes up just yet.