The Lakers being swept: champions chumpin’ out?
Between the Lines
I try to be objective in my commentary. OK, I’m lying. I’m very subjective in my commentary.
That’s what editorialists do, they editorialize. There’s only one way to see it—their way.
If there’s another way, let somebody else waste their 900 words providing the counterbalance. I primarily try to stick to the serious stuff, but from time to time stray into the frivolity of the world just to prove to some that I have a sense of humor. But I’m actually pissed this week (I know, y’all say, “What else is new?”) I’m not (that) upset the Lakers lost. I’m upset at how they lost. They messed up Mother’s Day, which was perfect until I sat down and watched the game.
To watch the two-time defending champions of the National Basketball Association go out like a bunch of wussies (I’m sure there’s a national wussy association out there somewhere. Please, wussies, don’t sue me!), was more than most of us could take.
It was the talk of all the television commentators. The disappointment wasn’t even held for the usual postgame comments. In-a-win-or-go-home match, the game was over before it started. Nobody could believe the Lakers laid down like that. Talk radio was on fire. Facebook was on fire. Twitter was on fire. Hell, I was tweetin’ (“What kind of s&#t is this).
The Lakers were down by nearly 30 points in the second quarter. They didn’t feel like playing.
Champions show up all the time. This year, the Lakers showed up when they felt like it. Some games they looked unbeatable. Other games, they looked like the Crenshaw YMCA Vikings could beat them. I understand it’s hard to stay motivated when you’ve won two championships in two years and five in the last 10. Them rings tend to be pretty heavy, and heavy is the head that wears the crown.
But angry is the fan that gets clowned. The Lakers clowned us a little bit this year, and this last series they straight up chumped us. The Dallas Mavericks are good (and congratulations), but they ain’t that good. The Lakers, however, aren’t that bad to be swept. They just chose to play like chumps.
Now, I know this is going to be taken the wrong way, but since when have I cared. Los Angeles Lakers fans are spoiled by success. We live in a nation of Laker-haters, which I think have even been surpassed by Boston haters. And Lakers fans have gotten a reputation for being a little whiney. We’re not whiney, we’re just a little maladjusted. Especially when we don’t win. But one thing we don’t do … is try to win at any cost, or try to ruin the fan experience by playing dirty. The Lakers win with integrity and they lose with integrity. Take it from me, a fan who has lived with the ups and downs of this team for nearly 45 years.
When the Lakers lost all those series to the Celtics in the 1960s, they lost with integrity. When they lost those series to the Knicks in the 1970s, they lost with integrity. Losing with integrity simply means leaving it all out on the floor, as the other team had to play their best to beat you. When the Lakers started winning in the 1980s, they won with integrity, and the couple series they lost, they lost with integrity.
They lost all through the 1990s and they gave it the best they had. And they are the teams of the 2000s and showed the best of what basketball sportsmanship should be about. But this team never played up to its potential, and they contemplated breaking it up in mid-season. Maybe they should’ve. Andrew Bynum was being mentioned for Carmelo Anthony. Mitch Kupchak didn’t pull the trigger. Now I know he wishes he had. Bynum’s fourth quarter cheap shot will go down in Lakers folklore. Even worse than when Kermit Washington slingshot Rudy Tomjanovich in the 1970s.
Forty years later, Washington, who people say was one of the most mild-mannered players ever, is still paying the price. If the Lakers can get Superman in the off-season by dumping Bynum—do it. Make some other moves while you’re at it. The Lakers need a character boost.
They played like chumps instead of champions, and I was embarrassed to call them my team … something I never hesitated to do in past years when they lost. Win or lose, you just want your team to represent and play with pride. Pride ran out of the Lakers on Mother’s Day, no less … bunch of wussies.
Hurry up and fix that s%#t, Jerry Buss.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of the upcoming book, “Real Eyez: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture.” He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at @dranthonysamad.
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