Cheer Up LA Lakers Fans, Your Team Is Usually Awesome

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Cheer Up LA Lakers Fans, Your Team Is Usually Awesome
Phelan M. Ebenhack

Somewhere, there is an 11-month-old fan of the Los Angeles Lakers who has never seen his favorite team make the NBA playoffs. His three-year-old brother is even more depressed, having lived out his days without his beloved boys in purple and gold lift the Larry O'Brien trophy. Truly, these boys must be cursed.

Now let me ask the fans of the league's other 29 teams: Do you feel bad for these long-suffering Lakers supporters?

Probably not.

SB Nation created a graph of 50-win seasons per franchise in honor of the legendary Tim Duncan and his San Antonio Spurs.

Of course, it will come as no surprise that the Lakers hold the lead in 50-win campaigns, with the Boston Celtics coming in a close second. 

But the Lakers universe has collapsed in on itself this season. The 2013-14 squad joined the not-so-prestigious 50-loss club with Wednesday's 107-103 defeat to the Sacramento Kings. This is only the second time the Lakers have lost at least 50 games since moving to Los Angeles is 1960. 

The only Los Angeles Lakers club to hit such a dubious mark was the 1974-75 squad which went 30-52.

What happened after 1974-75? Oh, not much. The Lakers made a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks in the summer of '75 to bring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Los Angeles. Then they drafted Magic Johnson...then they traded for Shaquille O'Neal...then they drafted Kobe Bryant...then they traded for Pau Gasol.

Yes, it's been a pretty good four decades in Laker Land.

Gasol will be a free agent at the end of the season, meaning Bryant could be the last true link to the Lakers' glory years. According to B/R's J.M. Poulard, Bryant will need to resurrect the Lakers quickly if he wants to supplant Magic Johnson's legacy in L.A.:

Remember, Bryant has missed the postseason before and spent two years of his prime leading the Lake Show to low playoff seeds, only to be eliminated in the first round.

That technically puts him on equal footing with Magic Johnson in terms of early playoff exits, but Johnson never missed the postseason.

Hence, missing the playoffs again next season and beyond is simply unacceptable to Bryant...

There is no way around it, a rebuilding season unquestionably knocks down Bryant in the hierarchy of all-time Lakers greats.

Bryant clearly understands this reality; nobody takes the Lakers' legacy of excellence more seriously than he does, per ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin:

How can I be satisfied with it? Were like 100 games under .500. I cant be satisfied with that at all. This is not what we stand for. This is not what we play for. A lot of times its hard to understand that message if youre not a diehard Laker fan.

Its hard to really understand where were coming from and what were accustomed to, which is playing for championships and everything else is a complete failure. Thats just how it is. Thats how it was explained to me by Jerry (West) and all the other great Lakers who have played here and thats how I grew up thinking. So thats just how it is.

If the Lakers are to reach the 50-win plateau again, Bryant will need help. Minnesota Timberwolves big man Kevin Love, who can be a free agent in the summer of 2015, has been linked to Los Angeles, per CBS Sports' Ken Berger. Also, the team will likely have a high pick in the loaded 2014 draft.

But the next superstar to play for the Los Angeles Lakers will have to accept a great deal of pressure. Playing for a historically great franchise can be a double-edged sword: The people around you know how to win, but they also expect nothing less.

But if history is any indication, the Lakers will be back on top, sooner rather than later.

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