I wait with cautious optimism the Lakers new team alchemy.
Posted by: SPQR on Aug 14, 2012 - 04:07 PM
After a very interesting off season, the most fecund and energetic I can remember, the Lakers are poised to regain a spot at the top of the rankings and reclaim the NBA title. The whole league and its fans no doubt bracing for an athletic and ratings Armageddon, the Los Angeles Lakers vs the defending champions Miami Heat. Kobe vs Lebron. Old legend vs new. Winner take all. Could it really get more spellbinding, more exciting, more energizing than that? For the last series comparable, you would have to travel back in time 30 years to the Magic-Bird historic finals confrontations.|
While Lakers fans rejoice in the moves of the front office and some fans of other teams no doubt viewing our off season as an NBA/Stern conspiracy to get Kobe and highly rated Lakers back into the finals. I have never bought into any of those silly conspiracy theories. The league survives and thrives over the long run no matter who the strong teams are in a particular year. No man as smart and in tune with reality as Stern would risk the very league and jail time to do something that is totally unnecessary. But regardless of how certain fans feel this came about, the maneuvering of the Lakers FO or the dark, unfathomable strings pulled by Stern, the bottom line is this season is more anticipated by Lakers fans than any in recent memory. In one summer, the whole dynamic of our team and its hopes seems to have changed from a fading has been to new and powerful championship favorite.
The last time this happened, this kind of ultra powerful, fundamental change occurred was when we signed Karl Malone and Gary Payton. This too was the last time the words Lakers super team was thrown around by so many fans and the media.
And that is why I am excited….with caution. I will never forget that day years ago when we made those signings that “guaranteed” us a super team and another ring. I was in my office. A close friend, co-worker and fellow Lakers fan, Ken, came charging in like a bull that broke from its pen. Ken is as large man, and I never have seen him move so fast. I knew something was up. Something big. And it was.
He exploded in a grin and gave me the news. “Randy,” he exclaimed, "the Lakers just signed Payton and Malone. Do you know what this means? We have the championship in the bag.” We all had heard rumors of this happening, so I had thought about it for some time before the actual event. I sat quietly, saying nothing. Ken said, “Man, aren’t you happy about this?”
I replied, “Ken, if Malone and Payton were five years younger, I would jump through the ceiling. But while we are getting Malone and Payton, it’s not the real Malone and Payton. Just shadows of what they were. Let's see what happens.”
For a while, in mid season, as they ripped off win after win, it looked like a super team had indeed been created out of the vials and vats and potions created in the front office room of alchemy by the wizards of the Lakers FO. Yet in the end, the gold it seemed the FO had made turned back to lead. Fool’s gold it was and no magic or tricks could belie that fact. And that year, the super team failed. Due to the age and declining play of Payton, Shaq and Malone, the injuries to the aging Malone, and the great play of the much younger more cohesive Pistons, the Lakers ended up losing in the finals. No matter how hard the wizards of LA’s front office tried, they could not turn back the hands of time.
That team was an object lesson in how the years can turn a once great player and a supposed super team, into something less than expected.
And once again, years later, the wizards of the Lakers Empire retreated to their lairs and room of magic and experimentation, pulled out their potions and recipes to try turn what was going bad, good again. And when they returned from their arts, their labors, we indeed have seen the results of their efforts. Once again, it has been proclaimed that our wizards have changed lead to gold, leading us to the Promised Land. I read and hear about the new Lakers super team. How the title is already theirs.
Am I excited about the additions of Jamison, Nash and others? Yes, how could I not be? And as a Drew supporter, I can’t deny I wanted him to remain. But he is gone. I understand the very mutable laws of the NBA and their rosters. Things change. Drew is gone. Dwight is here and I am ready to let Drew go and embrace Dwight. He is a Laker, Drew is not. And that is the reality I accept and go with. I hope Dwight brings everything to this team his adherents’ say he will. I am behind him 100 percent.
But once again, my excitement is tempered with caution. If Kobe, Pau, Jamison and Nash were five years younger, I would not only be jumping through the ceiling, but already waiting for the inevitable coronation and victory parade. But they are not. They all can still play, at least up to last season, but none of them is what they were. And history shows, sometimes old players can be less than what is needed, no matter their illustrious names and past god like deeds on the field of battle.
Will this team be better than last year’s team? Unless Nash and/or Kobe completely capitulate to age, or Dwight’s back renders him another case of a great athlete rendered hors de combat by injury, I can’t see any way it won’t be. And I am very excited to see what this new super team can do, as separate players and in synergy as a team. More excited than I can remember in a long, long time.
So I wait, with strong yet also cautious optimism, with high but also slightly tempered expectations. I know the great names on the jerseys, but am aware of their age. I know the mountains we they will have to climb, Mt. San Antonio, Mt. OKC. Mt. Miami. It’s going be an arduous trip, one that will tax every skill they have left. And I will be hoping and rooting like mad that this super team has just a bit more in it than our last super team that was just a few vital, precious years short of invincibility and the title it was given to it in August but could not achieve in July. That the gold will stay as shiny as it looks now and not tarnish, then blacken and revert to what we feared so much after last season.