The Los Angeles Lakers have had a rollercoaster of a season, starting the year as a strong offense that couldn’t defend well enough to win before morphing into a defensive juggernaut that got just enough from LeBron James offensively to grit out victories.
Then James got hurt, and the Lakers’ fortunes changed again, going 5-8 during his absence while mixing some of the worst basketball they’ve played this season with stretches of the strongest performances the team’s young core has displayed in their career.
Suffice to say that the Lakers have been anything but predictable this season. The good news is that the team, at least internally, wasn’t trying to predict how this year would go, as Michael Beasley explained on a recent episode of “The Official Lakers Podcast”:
Q: What were your expectations both personally and team-wise for the year?
Beasley: ”Team-wise I just wanted to come in, do my part and take it a day at a time... Everybody wants us to put our foot in our mouth and say ‘hey we’re going to win a championship’ or ‘we’re gonna do this in the playoffs.’
“At the end of the day, we don’t know the future. At the end of the day, all we can do is play hard and live with the results at the end of every game, so I think if we do that, we play together and we have fun, we’re going to put ourselves in a position to have an opportunity to have a great season at the end of the year.
“But let’s take it a day at a time, have fun and enjoy each other.”
Beasley has had that same mindset since before training camp, as he amusingly outlined to Dave McMenamin of ESPN in this unforgettably hilarious media day interview:
Michael Beasley has all the answers for @mcten. pic.twitter.com/b9GttlG4sx— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 25, 2018
Beasley is a veteran. He knows what fuels the player quotes industrial complex that exists in our media today (and sometimes on this site). He knows that coming out and guaranteeing a title — or saying the team expects one, or has that as a goal — is just going to put extra pressure on the roster during what is already a pressure cooker of a season.
So he’s avoiding it, and as a result, avoiding interviews that attempt to goad him into such proclamations, something both he and Josh Hart were asked about by host Aaron Larsuel during the same podcast episode:
Q: How tough is that when people try to get you to put your foot in your mouth?
Hart: “I don’t care”
Beasley: “Honestly? He’ll tell you, I’m a truth speaker. I don’t care if you don’t like me, I don’t care if it hurts your feelings. If it needs to be said, I just feel like I’ve got to say it. It just itches my brain. That’s why I don’t talk to a lot of people, because like you said, a lot of people don’t want to hear the truth. A lot of people are scared to look in the mirror, and I like to pride myself as being that mirror.”
Okay first, put “a lot of people are scared to look in the mirror, and I like to pride myself as being that mirror” on my tombstone please.
But Beasley is right, in a way. The way the media is now, players are constantly asked to talk about their goals for the season, or what the team thinks is possible, and then they’re sometimes lambasted for those same comments when their goals or proclamations don’t come to fruition.
In Beasley’s case, that apparently means that he’s trying to avoid speaking publicly at all because he doesn’t want to put his foot in his mouth. That’s a shame, because as his statements above reveal, he’s a hell of a quote and an introspective thinker whose perspective on the Lakers’ current season would be interesting to get more often.
Looking larger picture, it also makes sense that the Lakers aren’t internally trying to talk about what their goals are for the season. Mentally, with as much misfortune as this team has had to deal with this year, it’s a lot more sensible for them to just focus on playing the best basketball they can and see where that takes them.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.