There will always be the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, and the New England Patriots, but if we’re being honest, no professional sports team in the world garners more dislike than the Los Angeles Lakers. Personally, I think that’s half the fun.
Still, I don’t expect to make any non-Laker friends with this one.
Hatred is the price tag of greatness. The funny thing is, for most of us, it’s a price we’re more than happy to pay.
Its no secret that the strong majority of Laker haters are emotional, irrational, illogical, frustrated creatures, but you know what the basketball world’s best kept secret is?
They desperately desire the validation of Laker fans.
We’ve all been there.
The Laker fan plays the part of the proverbial grey haired white man while the frustrated hater lays across the proverbial leather couch and vents all of his narrow-minded perceptions and pathetic shoulda coulda woulda talk.
“The Lakers wouldn’t have won in 2002 if not for the officiating in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals,” they claim. (Well if the Kings hadn’t blown a 24-point lead in Game 4 and missed 14 free throws in Game 7, maybe the Lakers wouldn’t have won. Too bad.)
“The Lakers only won because of Shaq. The Lakers will never win a Championship without him! Never!” (Well, guess they can’t use this one anymore.)
“The Rockets would have beaten the Lakers if only Yao hadn’t gotten injured. If only Tracy hadn’t gotten injured. If only the world was a better place.” (The world is askew because a team that hasn’t been out of the first round of the playoffs since Sega Genesis was the video game market's leading console failed to beat a team whose franchise prides itself on winning or at least competing for championships year in and year out. Right.)
“The Celtics would be looking at a Three-peat if KG hadn’t gotten injured.” (Yeah, let’s just forget that the Lakers reached the 2008 Finals without two of the following year’s starters. Its not like the Lakers proved they’re the better team with a healthy roster by sweeping them in the following year’s regular season, right? I mean come on if that were the case the Lakers would have been the first team looking at a Three-peat since….well, since they did it last time.)
My personal favorite: “The Lakers cheated! They stole Pau Gasol. There’s a conspiracy!” (The way you get a player is clearly more important than what he does once he gets there, right? Besides, let's just ignore the fact that the Celtics got KG and Ray Allen for pretty close to nothing the EXACT same year.)
What can be said about Kobe Bryant that hasn’t already been said?
We are among the most privileged fans of all time to have such a dedicated, hard working, super-humanly talented player.
He’s always had the game, but now that he’s implemented a more team-oriented approach to his game and demeanor, it's all but written in stone that 2009 won’t be Kobe’s last championship.
But hey, even if you aren’t content watching Kobe Bryant’s flare and talent on the hardwood, there’s almost as much fun to be had listening to people’s reactions to him.
“Oh he’s a rapist! The fact that he was acquitted and the ‘victim’ was discovered to have semen from multiple other men in her panties means absolutely nothing!”
“Despite the fact that Phil Jackson, who happened to coach BOTH Jordan and Bryant, admits that the level of both players' skill is pretty close, it must not be the case! Jordan is more popular so he must be approximately 321,694,816,932,734 times better than Kobe will ever be!”
Think I’m exaggerating? Log onto YouTube one day and scroll down to the comments on a Kobe Bryant video. Get into a Kobe-related discussion in your school’s lunchroom. Hell, read a BleacherReport article with Kobe’s name in the fine print.
If you can find and record a completely positive example of any of the above contact me.
I’m moving out to where you live.
They’re hot, pure and simple. Its actually not all that puzzling as to why all the girls from LA are as sexy as they are. In a city known for its exotic beaches and scorching heat, who wouldn’t want a hot body to show off?
Granted I’ve usually found cheerleaders from teams I hate the most attractive (don’t ask why), but aside from that fetish, there’s nothing I love more than a Laker girl.
Except maybe a fresh 'Supernatural' episode.
But that’s another story.
Even when the Lakers suck, which is almost never, you still have bragging rights over every other team in the league, INCLUDING Boston.
Sure Boston may have more championships, for now, but you’ll never see the Lakers disappear for 20 years at a time.
San Antonio falls short too; after all, the Lakers/Spurs rivalry is purely restricted to this decade. Outside of the last 10 years, the championship count for the teams is 11 for the Lakers to zero for the Spurs. Not exactly a horse race, huh?
While the Spurs’ time in the NBA is dwarfed by the amount of time the Lakers have been around, their championship pace is too.
In fact, if the Spurs are lucky, my calculations predict that the earliest possible time San Antonio can catch LA is 2057.
As for everyone else, there isn’t even a case for a rivalry. It was the crowning achievement of the Phoenix Suns’ existence when they beat the rebuilding Lakers in the first round of the playoffs in two consecutive years. It's moot for Phoenix that the team didn't even reach the Finals on either occasion.
The Jazz similarly beat the Lakers two consecutive years in '97 and '98, but still failed to get the title both times.
For us, beating another Western Conference team in a playoff series means nothing if we don’t ultimately win it all. For other teams, beating the Lakers is enough of an achievement to boast proudly for years.
Kind of sad when you put it all in perspective.
Any given Sunday. It's never over until it's over. Nothing is guaranteed. Blah blah blah yadda yadda…
I could sit here and pretend like the Lakers may just become another one-hit wonder like the 2006 Miami Heat or another paper champion like the ‘02 Sacramento Kings or ‘07 Dallas Mavericks, but we all know better than that.
2009 won’t be the last championship this Laker team wins.
The truth is that the biggest (only?) threat to the Lakers this season resides in Los Angeles, and I’m not talking about the Lakers’ ugly red-and-blue-wearing step-sister.
As long as the Lakers keep their same passion and commitment to winning and they stay healthy, there isn’t a team out there that can beat them in a seven game series.
Let's just throw a few bonus reassurances out there:
a) No 60-plus win Phil Jackson coached team has ever failed to win the NBA Finals. One look at this roster and you know there’s pretty solid reason to believe the 2010 Lakers could challenge the ’96 Bulls' regular season record 72 wins…. do you really think they’ll have a problem getting to 60?
b) According to most analysts, the biggest threat to the Lakers in the Western Conference is the Spurs. Funny thing is that the Spurs have won only two of the last nine meetings with the Lakers and have lost four of their last five in the postseason, and although that last stat dates back to 2001, historical stats tend to be the most accurate predictor of the future.
c) Back to Phil: He’s never won a championship without winning two more in succession.
So look, I’m going to go ahead book my trip to LA for the repeat party in June. I hear the hotels out there are expensive though. Any suggestions?