I’m editing the mantra from Spiderman a bit but, in sports, with great talent comes great expectations. Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, and Michael Olowakandi are just a few of many supremely talented athletes who are crushed by such expectations, making them some of the biggest busts in sports’ history. As it stands they are set to be knocked down a notch in the bust hierarchy, courtesy of the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers. Being that in sports no individual is greater than the team, I am dubbing these Lakers the biggest bust in sports’ history.
A roster with four Hall of Famers that couldn’t win an NBA title would be deemed an utter disappointment but not necessarily an epic one. This was the case the last time Los Angeles assembled such a roster with the likes of Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant suiting up in purple and gold. But if the said team misses the playoffs, like these Lakers seem destined to do, we’re now talking epic.
It was just last year that Steve Nash was patrolling the court with the likes of Jared Dudley, Martin Gortat, and Shannon Brown while playing for the Phoenix Suns. Not exactly a who’s who list of NBA players. In fact both Brown and Gortat’s claim to fame comes from backing up two of Nash’s current teammates (Bryant and Howard). Nonetheless, Nash nearly guided this team of no-names and castoffs into the playoffs before losing out on the eighth spot to the Utah Jazz.
Fast-forward a year and it’s the same pesky Jazz standing in the way of Nash and the final playoff spot. Only this time he is paired with five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, and two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol. All of which are certain Hall of Famers.
The fact that this roster isn’t challenging the Miami Heat for the league’s best record is mind boggling enough but missing the playoffs in just unfathomable. As the lone star on their former teams these players managed to get their teams into the playoffs. Yet together they anchor a team that hovered below.500 for most of the season and was just swept by Clippers in the season series.
Yes the Lakers have their excuses. Nash, Artest, Howard, Gasol, and even the iron man himself, Kobe, has missed time this season but these injuries simply don’t explain what is going on in Lakerland. Is it the coach, their age, or just bad chemistry? No one has a definitive answer.
With four games and nine days remaining in the regular season, I do have the answer to the question everyone is still asking. Will the Lakers make the playoffs?