Friday, June 13, 2008

Reveling in the Lakers' Disaster

I have a confession to make - sometimes I revel in the defeat of a team that I can't stand. I savor it. I imagine the pain the fans of that team must be feeling, and chuckle to myself.

I'm certain that makes me less of a person, and complicates my prospects for the afterlife. So be it. When you're a sports fanatic, you end up being on the short end of a lot of contests. I'm certain that there is someone out there who enjoys the losses of my favorite teams just as much as I enjoy the losses of theirs. What goes around, comes around.

So this morning, I've been reveling in the coverage of last night's game in this morning's Los Angeles Times. Some nuggets:

T.J. Simers:

Incomprehensible. Disgusting. Deflating. Ridiculous. Sickening.

Impossible to fathom. A total meltdown. Appalling. Revolting. Depressing.

Talk about a choke job. Historical and horrifying. Alarming. Shocking.

The Lakers have the game's best coach, the game's best player and a 24-point lead almost halfway into a game they really must win, and they fall apart, disappear, take the rest of the night off.

Unexplainable. Laughable, if everyone isn't crying, and Boston doesn't have to win but one more game to win a championship that was still there in the Lakers' clutches.

T.J., I'm positively giddy, if that makes you feel any better.

Also from Simers:

Sasha Vujacic is the hero in Game 3, and one for nine in Game 4, playing without his athletic supporter after Ray Allen left him behind to secure the victory.

Now that was a play to savor for the ages, but I probably need to provide a bit of background. Back when the Lakers-Kings rivalry was at its apogee (for those who don't follow basketball closely, that would have been around the time the referees were stealing championships from Sacramento and handing them to L.A. on a silver platter), the Laker I hated the most - by far - was not Shaq, Kobe, or even Kings-killer Robert Horry. No, that distinction was saved for Rick Fox, the pretty boy for whom "fix hairdo" was #1 on the morning list, right ahead of "take acting lessons," "pose for photo shoot," and "try not to be late to practice." The words don't really exist to describe my level of hatred for Fox - I openly admit that it was irrational, to the point where I'd flip him off every time his perfect mug crossed the television screen.

Last night, I was starting to feel similar feelings for Vujacic - wondering what this guy had done to deserve the plaudits he was receiving, other than look pretty good for the camera. So the sight of him adopting a "right this way, sir" stance on the most important play of the night, well...that made me think that there is indeed a basketball God. Imagine - no matter what this poor guy does for the rest of his career, that particular highlight is never going to go away. If there was still a "Wide World of Sports," it might replace the guy wiping out on the ski jump slope as the manifestation of "agony of defeat." But he did show some manly anger when he got to the bench, so maybe that will make it OK.

Simers also gets off a spirited blast at David "See No Evil" Stern:

NBA COMMISSIONER David Stern called the media together 30 minutes before the game, everybody figuring he was going to tip them on who might win Game 4.

Instead, Stern wanted to make it clear the NBA is on the up and up. He said every official in the league has been asked if he ever fixed a game, and gee-whiz, golly-gee, you know what -- none of them said they have ever cheated.

That takes care of that, as far as Stern is concerned.

Bill Plaschke:

They didn't choke.

By definition, when one chokes, there is noise, movement, desperation.

The Lakers didn't choke.

They blew the NBA Finals without making a sound.

They botched their entire season while standing still.

Man, that is some good stuff. And later on:

In the final quarter-and-a-half, the Lakers seemed afraid of plenty of things, mostly success.

Mark Heisler:

Hello, ignominy, their old friend.

It turned out the Lakers and Celtics weren't reliving any of their Finals in the 1980s, after all. This one is right out of the '60s, when it wasn't a matter of what would go wrong for the Lakers but when and how horrific it would be.

This has always been a franchise that was built on arrogance, on the certainty of its players, coaches, and fans that yes indeed, they really were better than everyone else. More often than not, they've been able to back it up. So it will be interesting to see how they handle the fact that the biggest failure in the history of the championship now rests on their shoulders. It will be fun to watch.

Well, I guess that's enough of that. Not really, but there's golf to watch.

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