Haughty Teams from L.A. Nipping at the Heels of Leprechauns, and a Few Other Musings

I was responding to a recent comment by an SSR member who's not a Lakers fan, but who praised the work the Lakers front office has done over time. My reply became long and rambling enough that I decided to turn it into a fanpost to help give people more cud to chew on while waiting for the upcoming NBA season to start. Really, this is less than the Avatar of pre-season fanposts in terms of insight, but I hope you get a little amusement out of it regardless.

The topic at hand to start the fanpost is the difference between L.A. and Boston as sports towns, and the degree to which the Lakers and Celtics are franchises respectively conducive to winning future NBA championships. . . .

(I recommend reading this fanpost while listening to "Hook" by Blues Traveler as faint background music.)

LA is [NBA basketball] first—not that they don’t follow the Dodgers, but it is [basket]ball first

As successful as the Lakers have been for so long, sadly this is largely due to what else is going on, or not going on, in L.A. sports. Well, L.A. certainly used to be, like Boston, a baseball-first city. And even though there are quite a few of us Dodgers fans who were around when Reggie Jackson was becoming "Mr. October" at our expense, and the Dodgers' longtime fanbase continues to propagate, you are right. The McCourts never got their hands off each other's necks long enough to truly get a finger on the pulses of the city of L.A. or the franchise they frivolously added to their portfolio.

And, the shell game involving stadiums continues to keep the NFL out of L.A. . . .

Where to segue next? Well, it seems that USC has reloaded, and Notre Dame fans continue to nervously nurse that nine-win lead in the head-to-head football rivalry (currently 43-34-5 in favor of the Irish). Seems leprechaun mojo may be in a prolonged refractory period across the Eastern U.S. sports landscape.

after [Larry] Bird left the [Celtic]s fell back for a long time and the C’s [front office] did not take the approach that if you do not win a title relatively soon, there is something very very wrong. They accepted relative mediocrity where before Red [Auerbach] would not.

Well, Celtics fans will also point to deaths of a couple of young promising players. Yet, while deaths are tragic, as a practical matter they could be seen as something akin to career-ending injuries, and the fortunes of any franchise are always susceptible to those. Reggie Lewis and Len Bias were drafted by Boston. The Celtics' 22-year championship drought ended because of well-conceived trades — finally.

If Rajon Rondo sticks with the Celtics, and Danny Ainge really has the stuff and isn't a one-time one-trick-pony GM, then there's a chance to sustain the Celtics' current championship window for awhile. But even then, there's really no comparing Rondo to Dwight Howard as a key star around whom to build for the future. Jeff Green seems nice. . . . But, what's the plan Danny?

Hey, but at least the Celtics were — finally — able to get a title a few years ago after a long absence. Unfortunately, given what other top-tier teams are currently doing, it seems logical that a number of Celtics fans will go arthritic gripping tightly to their Banner 18 angst, though the law of averages suggests they'll be able to finally relinquish that angst within another 22 years, +/– half a decade. In the meantime, the Lakers will probably have pulled off another one or two of those multiple-championships-within-a-decade things they tend to do (starting now with two titles currently in the bank). What will Celtics angst be called once the Lakers relegate Banner 18 to just another banner?

Looking at the other contenders (i.e. teams that have played for the NBA championship in the past five years). . . .

  • Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Smaller-market success: one's recently reached the championship level, the other one's starting to fade from it, but at least OKC begins this season knowing that it has a great precedent and that the NBA isn't completely rigged in favor of Boston and cities with beaches.
  • Dallas. It's like Mark Cuban and company's only goal as a franchise was to win one championship, and there were no other pages in their game plan beyond that. It's a franchise acting like its reason for being no longer exists, and now they just do stuff to do stuff.
  • Orlando. (Wounds are still raw. This portion intentionally left blank.)
  • Miami. Dwyane Wade, L.E.B.R.O.N. (i.e. LeBron) James and Chris Bosh have a decent window ahead of them this decade to go after more titles, and RAILLY (i.e. Pat Riley) will always try to add rings to his collection as long as he breathes. Miami, as a place to live and "be", has some of the same appeal as L.A. But where will the Heat be a decade from now? What is the franchise's set of unique qualities for remaining perennially relevant? What's RAILLY's plan for complementing top-5-in-the-league point god Mario Chalmers??

All I know is, I'm looking forward to being a Lakers fan for the next quarter century, but what else is new.

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