[Ed. Note: FryingDutchman classifies this as a rant about these Lakers. I call it it the mark of a true fan, and I imagine he articulates a common sentiment among Lakers fans better than anyone else that I have seen, so far.]
I didn't watch the second half of Game 4 vs. the Rockets. I didn't need to. I saw all I needed to see through about a quarter and a half. I paused my Tivo, did some other shit for 30 minutes, made sure nothing had changed, and promptly stopped caring. Because that's exactly what this team deserves.
I love the Lakers.
I love the Lakers because it's in my blood. I love them because I was born loving them. They are like family. I don't have a choice. I loved them when Magic was winning championships. I loved them when Travis Knight was on their roster. I loved them when Jerry West brought in Shaq and Kobe. I loved them when Phil Jackson put it all together. I loved them when they brought in my most hated player of all time, Karl Malone. I loved them when they sold off Shaq and counted on Smush Parker for two years. And I love them now. I have no choice. They are like family.
But I don't like them.
This team may still win a championship. No one can argue with their talent, and if they show up in a game for 48 minutes, I don't think anybody can beat them. They will almost definitely still win this series against Houston. They will probably even win the Western Conference, despite the fact that the Nuggets look a hell of a lot better (effort will do that). Then, they'll get to the finals against a Cleveland team that has been trying its ass off all year, and who knows. I could see the Cavs sweeping that series. I could see seven games. I could see a Lakers victory in 5. There is absolutely no telling what happens, because there is no figuring out how much effort the Lakers are going to give on any given night, even in the Finals. The only thing I know is that my heart and my head will be conflicted from here on out. My heart follows my love, my heart roots for the Lakers under all circumstances.
My head? My head sees a team so talented they don't think they need to try. My head sees a team that is capable of playing a brand of basketball so beautiful, poems and epics should be devoted to it. And yet, my head sees that same team willing to throw that away because it takes effort and focus to make that happen. My head sees a team that should be at least average defensively, with good height, quickness, and athleticism. My head sees that same team play worse defense than you see in a pick up game at your local 24 hour fitness. The travesty that was game 4 sealed the deal. My mind dislikes this team. My mind will be rooting for them to lose.
If the Lakers win the championship, part of me will be disappointed. The part of me that thinks that effort and hard work are important and should be rewarded. The part of me that gets angry at how unfair the world is. Because that's exactly what it will be. If the Lakers win it all this year, it will be unfair. Unfair to the game of basketball. Unfair to all the past champions. Unfair to the Houston Rockets, who lost their 2nd best player in the regular season, and got better. Who lost their best player for the playoffs, and came out and played harder. It was bad enough when Shaq would take half the regular season getting into shape, but this? Those teams never took entire playoff games off. The Lakers today were the Detroit Pistons, a team with much of the same talent that had them go to the EC finals 5 years straight, and yet this year saw them limp into the playoffs before getting swept as a mere formality. The Lakers today were the LA Clippers, a motley assortment of players who could care less about the team. The Lakers today weren't champions, and they don't deserve to be champions.
My heart doesn't work on logic, so I'll be there in front of my TV rooting the team on like I always do for Game 5. But in the back of my mind, I'll be hoping that one of these teams comes along and finally gives these Lakers the lesson they deserve, that some group of guys dedicated to each other and to playing the game as best they can ALL THE TIME drives the point home to my team and makes them suffer for it. We all thought it would have happened last year, but it didn't. Maybe it can't happen, maybe its a lesson the team will never learn. But my mind will be hoping for a hungrier team to come and ruin the Lakers season again, because my mind does work on logic. My mind seeks justice.
Even if it costs my heart the chance to celebrate a championship.