Proselytizers of the Purple and Gold, please read this first paragraph very carefully: I have written so many column blogs championing the talent of the Lakers and the fact that they have the potential to be another mini-dynasty, rattling off another three-pete, I am now qualified to replace John Black as their PR director when he goes on vacation.
That said, in the interest of emotionless, journalistic objectivity, I’ve now got one leg off the bandwagon and the other one’s hanging over the side. Why? It’s more like … why not?
Not to Purple Reign on their parade, but here is the mathematical formula: Bad Regular Season Losses + Consistently Playing Down to the Level of the Competition + Lack of Any True Sense of Urgency and Purpose + Fat Cat Syndrome From Winning Previous NBA Title + Thinking You Can Flip the Switch at Playoff Time often = A Disappointing Exit Sometime in May.
It’s not just the bad losses — by 26 at Denver Nov. 13, by 15 to Cleveland at home on Christmas, by 15 at Phoenix three days later, by 20 at San Antonio Jan. 12, by 13 to Denver (again) at home Feb. 5 and by 15 at Charlotte exactly a month later on March 5. All teams, even potential champions, suffer bad losses sporadically throughout the monotonous season. That’s the NBA.It’s not even that Kobe Bryant has had to bail them out six amazing times this season. If he misses four or five of those, as he ordinarily might have in some past do-or-die, game-on-the-line moments, they’re tied with Dallas and Denver in the West now or even trailing. But no, it’s not just that, either.
It’s a feeling, a powerful sense that the '09 title sated them, filled them with enough success so that even though they have the best record in the West, only a few wins off best in the league, their bellies nevertheless just aren’t burning anymore. Someone alert LAFD. The Lakers' fire is out!