As a Los Angeles Laker fan I started the season absolutely ecstatic. Today I watched as Kobe Bryant passed Wilt Chamberlain for the 4th spot in the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Then he presided over the team’s offense as he passed his way to 14 assists despite an injury to his left foot. The Lakers got a badly needed win over Sacramento. Today’s win would typically cause a frenzy of high fives for those of us used to this team’s winning ways. Right now I can only be somber.
The Lakers are tied for the last available slot for the NBA playoffs. The Utah Jazz recently suffered period of total collapse but still are in the hunt for a playoff spot this late in the season. At this point in time it seems a bone spur can still very possibly derail the appointment this team has with the San Antonio Spurs.
Just two weeks ago it seemed that the only question for this team was whether they would play the top seed or meet up with a lower rated 1st round opponent. It seemed that the Laker juggernaut that people expected to materialize at the beginning of the season was finally going to make an appearance.
Of course at the time of this writing that scenario only seems like wishful thinking. The team has been decimated by injuries. Major players had to miss stretches of games this season. The injured list is an All-Star list: Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace and of course Kobe Bryant.
You will recall also that D’Antoni came in as a replacement coach. That meant he had to miss the crucial period of reorienting a basketball team with new pieces to the puzzle coming in. Dwight Howard was obviously not 100% at the start of the season. Superman obviously had “kryptonitis” in his back. In fairness his contributions in the early games were decent. In the face of the high expectations at the onset for this team anything but stratospheric results were viewed as a disappointment.
Then came the injury to Kobe. The Lakers before that seemed to be rolling to the playoffs. Those wins though I believe can be attributed to a favorable patch of their schedule. However, every hint of a silver lining this season was welcome. For us who were spoiled by Magic, Kareem and their Showtime cohorts, nothing less than winning was acceptable for the regular season. Then of course there was talk of that NBA championship that we were going to win this year.
They say the ball is round in basketball and that anything can happen. The Laker Nation will probably hate me for saying this. The truth of the matter is any logical person can see that this team will not go past the first round. Just like any rabid Laker fan I am praying for a miracle. This season however miracles are few and far between.
Living in Los Angeles’ basketball world today is like living in the “Bizzaro” world. We are looking up at the Clippers in the standings. Lob City is playing a more exciting and electrifying type of game. The Clippers have clinched the playoffs. We are fighting for our playoff spot. Kobe Bryant is passing the ball. Vision of Earvin “Magic” Johnson come to mind.
One thing has not changed over this past decade. The Spurs are an issue to the Lakers this season much as in the past. Who knows if Kobe’s bone spur will allow him and the team to even make it to dance. Here is to hoping for the best.