"We're going down a slide! We're going down a slide y'all. A slide. The Great Wall- oh shit." Nick Young, a Los Angeles Lakers starter
We're here because we love the Los Angeles Lakers -- well, most of us -- and we've been accustomed to winning championships being the source of joy. The reason the purple and gold play professional basketball is simple -- to be the best in the league and add to that majestic championship tally.
Hate to break it to you, but this current Lakers squad isn't likely to add to the banners hanging in Staples Center. And that's fine.
It's hard to appreciate the little things when the big picture is blocking the view. Last season was a reminder that not all big productions turn into box office hits. It happens. What we're left with are the props, gag reels and a few actors who were left behind in Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. The rest are the extras who are sticking around to earn their pay check and become the first group of Lakers to wear "Hollywood Nights" jerseys.
And that's fine too.
There's no reason to be blinded by the implicit necessity to win a championship or tank. Sure, in a perfect world that's how this rodeo works. The world isn't perfect and we still know little about it despite the exorbitant amount of information a simple Google search can spoon feed us. Generally, you don't even have to follow through to the links you seek, being able to read the headlines and summary text to find the answers sought.
We've talked much about how and why this Lakers team is going to struggle on defense but likely be above average on offense. We've watched Xavier Henry turn preseason into "hey, Xavier Henry WAS a highly regarded college recruit after all" season. Rarely have we sat around the campfire to roast marshmallows to conclude this season with three words:
It's all good.
We know next summer is going to be incredibly stressful. It's hard to imagine how much noise the Lakers with salary cap are going to make in "today's" NBA where a rumor catches fire in 140 characters or less. There are going to be free agent meetings. There are going to be high-profile signings (of some sort). The first planks of a bridge to tomorrow will be crafted.
And there's also the matter of the expiring contracts of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
There's plenty to worry about when looking at the future of the Lakers. For the first time in a long time there's no set-in-stone franchise piece to lead for another decade. Yes, Kobe isn't done, but the sun is setting and the organization is preparing for the future. These things will come when it's their time, though.
This is a season to enjoy the little things. This could be the last season Pau and Kobe play together. This could be the last season either of these players even play for the Lakers individually. This could be the final season of Mike D'Antoni's wild sideline gestures. This could be the only season we see the aforementioned "Hollywood Nights" jerseys along with the yet-to-be-revealed sleeved jerseys.
Maybe there won't be a championship, but that's alright. We love basketball and there's plenty of joy to be had when watching the sport at the base level. Watching a perfectly placed bounce pass between defenders turn into a dunk. Crisp defensive rotations (they may be rare but they'll happen). Pick-and-roll brilliance. Well-executed set plays. Nick Young doing absurd things with the ball in his hands, draining the jumper and swagging out as he jogs back on defense. Kobe Bryant returning to the sport he's given his life to for 17 seasons.
Sometimes we crash. We have to be able to laugh at it and keep sliding down to our destination.