It must be a slow time in Los Angeles sports news, because the Clipper’s 48 point drubbing of the Lakers is all anyone with a microphone or a keyboard seems to be talking about. And now, I’m part of the problem. See what you people in the media do to me!?
The sheer stupidity of it all hit me on my drive home from the day job today as I was listening to the Petros and Money show on AM 570 out here. I like those guys, and for the most part they’re fun to listen to, though Petros needs to lower the volume just a scoche. Is that how you spell scoche?
The questions being asked, and not just by Petros and Money, but by most of the basketball media, are simply preposterous. Let’s tackle them one by one, so each of the moronic notions can have it’s own little section of ignominy here on The Stain.
Is Los Angeles now a Clippers town?
Really? Look, I know I’m in the minority here, but if the teams I support (Dodgers, Kings, Galaxy, Lakers) don’t bring home the hardware, I hope the other local teams do. I have no problem pulling for the Angels, Ducks, Chivas or Clippers if my primary teams are out of it. But that notwithstanding, Los Angeles is a city about far more than who the flavor of the month is in the sports world. The Clippers are clearly the superior team here these days, but they have won the same amount of NBA titles as you and I have. Until they win something, how can they even be compared to a Lakers franchise with a truckload of titles, led by superstars like Jerry, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, Worthy, Kobe, Shaq and company. Look, go Clips. Kick ass. Take down the Western Conference, and lay the smack on Indiana or Miami, whomever it is that will represent the East. But until that happens about a dozen times, they are second fiddle. Is it fair? Maybe not, but nobody ever said the World was a fair place.
Is this the most humiliating defeat in Lakers history?
Again, preposterous. The term humiliating implies that somebody actually gives a crap on the Lakers. The only guy who can truly claim to bleed the purple and gold is Kobe Bryant, who has spent his entire career here. But he’s hurt. The classy Pau Gasol cares, to a degree, but he wouldn’t have turned down a trade to a contender. Not in a heartbeat. In any event, he’s still good but he’s a few years removed from being a star. The rest of the guys on the team are guys trying to rack up numbers they can point to in job interviews next season. If Xavier Henry’s 15 points including 3-3 on three pointers helps his season ending averages, is anyone going to remember that it came in a blowout loss? These aren’t the iconic Lakers of old. They’re mercenaries wearing the purple and gold jersey this year.
Are the Lakers as an organization at a crossroads?
In short, no. This is how sports dynasties work. You get a collection of stars. Win for several years. Those stars get old, and their level of play starts to decline. But you can’t get rid of them because they are under contract. And you had to sign them to a lucrative contract that extended into their older years, because if you didn’t offer that, some other team would have and you don’t get them for their good years then, and as a result, don’t win. It’s pretty straight forward. The other thing is, when you win, you don’t get high draft picks, so your odds of landing a Paul George type are super slim. The Lakers are just at a point now where their stars are old, and they need to rebuild. So they’ll get a good draft pick, hopefully use it well, suck again next season, hit the draft again, and sign a big free agent or two, and voila. Contender. It’s not neuro science.
Do the Clippers have extra motivation against the Lakers?
If they do, there’s something wrong with them. It’s a basketball game. Wins against the crosstown rival don’t count any heavier in the standings than a win against Milwaukee. It may be a bragging rights badge for local fans when your team beats up on your buddy’s team, but these guys are professionals and already on to the next game. Extra motivation is a horrid sports cliche. Nothing more. If any game ever would be cause for extra motivation, it would be a finals game or a game where you were facing elimination from the playoffs. Your proverbial life on the line could add extra weight. Anything else, doubtful.
Will free agents even want to come to the Lakers now?
Well, if you want to live in a town with a fast-paced nightlife, huge media market, and a disproportionately high number of beautiful people, then you will. If you prefer a quieter, more anonymous course for your stardom, then probably not. The previous season’s record can’t be a motivating factor. But let’s say for a moment that the Lakers are indeed afraid their brand, and therefore their recruiting power has faltered. The Buss family is not stupid. Fire D’Antoni. Hire Phil Jackson. Problem over. For the record, I’m not advocating this. I enjoy D’Antoni’s fast paced philosophy (as much as a guy like me can use the word “enjoy” in the same sentence as the word “basketball” anyway…) way more than Phil Jackson’s methodical triangle. And I’ve always thought he was overrated anyway, and that much of his success was a product of his teams having the preponderance of good players. But you can’t argue the fact that he is revered in NBA circles.
Are the Lakers tanking?
If they were, would it matter? What do you think Philly is doing, or Milwaukee, or Utah? But if I have to weigh in on this ridiculous notion, no. Why would they go into Portland and gut out a victory against a very good Blazers team that in no way helps them in the standings? If they’re tanking, they’re doing it wrong. Something like 12 of the fifteen guys on the roster are not guaranteed jobs next season. I promise you, those guys WANT jobs next season. So they need to put up numbers, and that is going to occasionally end up in your team scoring more points than the other guys. And the fact that the winning basket was scored on a highlight reel alley oop won’t hurt Kent Bazemore and Wesley Johnson’s job prospects either.
Are the Clippers championship contenders?
Yeah, if you’re dreaming or on narcotics. They’re a good team. They have good young players. Chris Paul is a leader. But they can’t defend the interior. For all of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan’s dunking on offense, there’s not enough paint protection. It’s one thing to lay a beating on a doormat, it’s entirely another to do it against other playoff teams. They may get out of round one, but any farther than that would be shocking. I’d love to eat crow with this one. The more hardware my hometown gets, the happier I am. But it ain’t happening this year with this team.
Are you ready for baseball to start yet, Torsten?
Yes. Yes I am. Perhaps something other than the monstrous man that LeBron James is jumping over a small, inferior player and dunking the ball might end up on a highlight show. For the life of me, I can’t understand how a man the size of James, or the average NBA player for that matter, stuffing a ball through the hoop is impressive. It’s something that contains ZERO DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY! A third baseman barehanding a bunt by a speedy hitter and firing to first base on the dead run to get him by a fraction of a second, that takes skill.
Ok, stepping off of the soap box now. Hopefully we covered everything on this Lakers Clippers nonsense so we can stop hearing about it.