Hollywood Ending? Los Angeles Lakers Are Mirror Image Of L.A. Arrogance

A shell of my former selfCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  (L-R) Kobe Bryant #24 and Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers share a laugh on the bench during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 15, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 126-86. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have now lost three games in a row for the first time in three seasons; the first time since they acquired Pau Gasol.

It was in late January of 2008 that the Lakers last dropped three straight. At San Antonio. At Dallas. Home against Cleveland.

That was also the year L.A. was gift-wrapped an All-Star for Kwame Brown and that dude that went all Doc Holliday with Gilbert Arenas.

So, bring out the proverbial panic button. Wait, forget that. It's the Lakers.

After all, La-la land was over it a few hours later. The Oscars were on.

Ryan Seacrest was front-and-center and the skid was kaput in the minds of Los Angelinos. Oscar Sunday trumps a Lakers losing streak. Duh.

After all, it's Kobe. It's Phil. It's Tinsel Town. They probably don't even own a panic button. 

Big whoop. L.A. was 46-15, and after three games on the east coast, the record now stands at 46-18. 

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Who cares? After all, it is Southern California.

It's Hawaii-lite. 

Sunshine 362 days a year, some gusty winds and a couple downpours in the other few and far between days and that's about it.

And as the defending NBA champion Lakers have always done, they attract crowds. At Staples Center and all around the country. 

They're the Boston Red Sox of professional basketball. Fans crawl out of the rotted woodwork when Kobe and Co. are in town—in the bunches, too.

The Lakers are the most-talented team in the association. They have two All-Star caliber seven-footers and the deadliest player in the game. 

They have the only guy that could guard Kevin Durant straight up. And he comes off the bench.

And now, there's Ron Artest. Adjectives galore coming to mind. Overload, actually.

You know the dude. He's Ron Artest, and when he showed up with his hair dyed yellow and a purple inscriptions in three different languages all over, one could only think of Dennis Rodman.

Rodman? Artest isn't the new Rodman. He's the Artest. His track record speaks for itself. His mannerisms are of a combination of a cage-fighting steroid freak and a loyal British pitbull terrier. 

There's Phil. And we all know Phil. Overload, yet again.

So, who cares if the Lakers lost three games in a row? One was to the defending Eastern Conference champs. 

The others to Miami (cough once) and Charlotte (no cough). 

But, it's how the team has played so sporadically over the course of this season that brings light bulbs to a flickering halt. 

How can the richest, most talent-laden team in the league lose such gimme games?

Is the focus even there? 

Well, Lamar Odom stars in a reality TV show with his wife for some reason or another. Artest is Artest, which says miles in mere inches. Sasha Vujacic is dating Maria Sharapova. Adam Morrison still looks awkward and lost.

Why isn't there a reality crew following this team? Spike Lee, what's your beeper number? 

It shouldn't be Kobe Doin' Work this season.

It should be Lakers Kinda-Sorta-When-We-Feel-Like-It Doin' Work.

In Kobe Bryant, you have the one of the fiercest competitors in the history of the game. He wants to win like Lamar's wife wants her multi-million dollar villas.

That's how much four-time NBA champ wants each and every W.

He's openly questioned his team in the past. He called his team "soft" numerous times over the course of the past couple seasons. 

Looks like the, here it comes, former "M-V-P!' knows a thing or to. 

With talent comes expectation. With expectation comes aspiration. With aspiration comes achievement. 

When the Lakers were bullied in six games two seasons ago at the hands of their cross-country rival Boston Celtics, something needed to change. 

Kobe saw it. Phil Zen-ed it. And in 2009, the Lakers out-talented the field. 

Question being: are these Lakers (Kobe, notwithstanding) content now that they have their own rings, reality shows, and supermodels? 

Andrew Bynum's still oversleeping and whining about calls against him. Gasol, easily a top 10 player in the NBA, earns a Best Supporting Actor nom every time he is grazed by an opponent. Derek Fisher is torrentially declining and, in doing so, has stepped up his pestilential ways. 

Sunday's loss to the Magic echoed what has become fairly evident over the last month or so. 

The Lakers talent can only take them so far this season. There will be a time when Bryant will call upon his newly-minted, trusty pitbull and go to war. 

And the team, as a whole, will have to follow suit.

Artest etched the word "defense" in his head before the loss to Orlando. He knows his role. 

Who would have thought that this late into the season, Artest would have been the one who has kept his respective cool, more so than any other Laker?

Talent, as we all know is a gift that cannot be given twice. 

If you've been a recipient of the gilded touch, bare it. Expound upon it. Exploit it. 

This Lakers team could easily throw out Denzel, Jack, and Dyan Cannon to get some stops at times. 

Hell, maybe even Leo could help defend the pick-and-roll. 

The defending champion is written in the past tense. You're no longer the champion. You've got to earn it once again. Kobe knows that. He hadn't itched that scratch in seven years.

There will come a time when this Laker team has to cowboy up and ride its wave of talent and make it coincide with something that the likes of Artest and sometimes Kobe can only sport.

Illogical competitiveness. 

Ludicrous effort. 

Senseless sacrifice. 

Such things aren't very synonymous with the City of Angels. It's L.A. Psh. The pedestal is higher than any other in the nation. 

It's the always-flourishing mecca—for pro basketball, too. For anything, really. Sorry, Madison Square Garden. Your time has come and gone. Just know this. Lakers fans are ruthless. They can be, too. 

They have titles like Charles Barkley has five buck boxes.

So, the Lakers will continue to skate through the regular season. Phil will make excuses for losses and Kobe will lower the booms and act as the real coach. 

His teeth will be gnawed. His eyes fixated and will be ready to strike without premonition. 

As for the lot of them, who knows. 

It would be almost a sure-fire assumption that tension is brewing within the locker room. After all, there are so many type-A personalities that could rival, say...The Hills?

Nah. Spencer and Heidi would tear these guys apart. They know how to play team defense. 

Kobe wins ball games, but he also takes 30 shots a game, at times.

The Lake Show seemed fine minus Mamba for a while, didn't they? It was, dare we say, team basketball?

Pau's stove dial is turned up to nine. RonRon's wackjobness is as wishy-washy as his awkward psyche and Lamar is just too damn stressed about what to get Mrs. Odom for her birthday this summer.

As for basketball, the verdict is still out whether or not this Laker team can out-talent their way to another title. 

If Sunday's loss to the Magic cemented anything, it showed that Matt Barnes must have gone back and watched tape of the 2008 Finals for some pointers. 

His team followed suit and Kobe missed his 30th shot and that was that. 

Oh well. Back home to L.A. where there are no worries and the sun is always shining.

It's a hard knock life, folks. Even for those who have it all and then some.

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