Something funny happened last night during the Lakers-Golden State game.
I settled down to watch, I was of course expecting a loss. But more than that, I was hoping for one, just like I have been for every Lakers game for the last three years. And let me tell you, three years is a long time to root against your team.
I only root for two teams in sport, the Steelers and the Lakers and for the vast majority of the time, I pull for both of them every game. But once in a while, when the truth tells me my team needs to get some star players, because they are mired in Nowhere Town with no egress in sight, not a cab, not a buss, not a train, nothing, no hope to get out, I take that blasphemous fork in the fandom road and root against them, so they can reap the rewards of a high pick and hopefully, through that pick, a means of escape to a better place.
The year I did it with the Steelers the rewards were indeed great as our twenty year old and counting quarterback problem was finally solved by drafting Ben Rothliesberger and two super bowl rings followed in short order. That is of course the optimum result of a high draft pick.
And so, in order to get the Lakers back on track, to get some desperatly needed talent on board, to obviate the ridiculous trades moron Mitch Kupchak made I decided to root against the Lakers in a revanchist strategy to reclaim those lost number one picks Mitch has so blithely given away.
When I made my decision to root against the Lakers those long years ago, it was done with a heavy heart, but perhaps not for reasons you may think.
It wasn't because I felt sorry for the once great Kobe Bryant. Hell no. After the torture test he put the fans and his teammates through the last few years I found justice in him suffering through those last horrific seasons, while stars on other teams reaped the glory and press. A sort of fitting karma was finally meted out to Kobe for all the rotten things he did over the years. I enjoyed watching him get that dark reward.
Likewise I had no sympathy for Byron Scott. Although I lived through Showtime, Scott the coach was a martinet, in way over his head, totally unequipped to deal with shadow Bryant or the young players populating his team.
The reason I almost hated to see the Lakers lose, as much as I wanted those picks back was because Mitch didn't deserve to get them back. He deserved to strangle and suffocate at his own hands for the deals he did. If there was total justice in the sports world, the Lakers would have won enough to get none of those picks returned and Mitch would have fielded a dead team for another five years and gotten his just reward, being fired.
But of course, a dead team for five or more years for Mitch would also mean a dead team for us, the fans, and so, with heavy heart, I went all in on rooting against the Lakers. Every. Single. Game. For three years straight.
As we all know, things did indeed turn out lucky for us the fans and also, sadly, for Mitch. We got a high enough pick to secure Julius Randle the first year, we got our traded number one picks back the next two years and used them to take D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram.
And now, after years of suffering, those three along with Clarkson, Zubac and Nance are the young core that looks like they can lead to a new era in Lakers basketball. A very good era.
Which brings me full circle back to that funny thing that happened last night during that Lakers-Golden State game.
I was very willing to root against this team for that one last year, to get back that final pick that we can that Mitch stole from us.
So here I was, sitting in front of the TV, ready to root Golden State on to the their inevitable blow out win. But it didn't happen. None of what I was expecting of the team or myself happened.
This is what did happen: I watched the young Lakers come out and dominate the defending western champs. Black was a force underneath, with scoring and defense. Randle was unstoppable on the boards and going to the hole. Russell was hitting his shot and running the offense, Clarkson answered every Golden State run with three point shots or marvelous drives. Ingram showed flashes of why his potential is so great. It all came together just like we envisioned it would when we drafted these guys.
And just like the Lakers, I found myself, from the get go, right from the start, not rooting against them, but for them, to keep extending that lead and send Golden State out of Staples shell shocked with a loss. For the first time in three years, I was rooting for the Lakers to win.
It felt really odd. To root for my team after three years. And it felt damn good.
Would getting that last draft pick back this year help us? Sure it would, big time. It might be the pick that makes them a title team in a few years. It could be just that important.
But as I watched that game, watched those young players and the vets, like Swaggy P who is so committed to winning he is one of the best defenders on the team, a player totally remade, as I watched young Coach Walton cajole and lead his team every step of the way, as I watched them try so hard, against all odds, against the super team, play with such brio, bring such a buzz that has been missing for so long, I realized, as much as I believe that pick could mean for us, I just can't root against this team. They are just trying too hard, they are enjoying playing together, finally, joyfully out from the iron fist of Kobe, able to express themselves and their games.
I realized my own personal Lakers nightmare may finally be ending, right along with the teams.
Do I think the Lakers will make the playoffs this season? No. Will they have games where they look like the worst team in basketball. Yep, more than a few I suspect. But one thing that won't happen is another season of me having to root for them to lose, for their own best interests and ours. I will be pulling for them every single game, happily.
A funny thing happened during that Lakers-Golden State game. I was allowed to return home again after a long, but badly needed exile to achieve the cure for what has ailed us for too long.
And I liked it. I want more.
11/05/2016 - 09:07 PM PST
LTB HOF Silver
Location: Los Angeles, California
That's what I love about your posts Randy...brutally honest.!!
Couldn't agree more with regards to Mitch and kobe. It was as if we were in a hostage crisis situation (fans and players). The Pirate had taken siege of the entire system. It was a despotic regime wherein anarchy reigned supreme. Fool's gold was being glorified by the foolish mamba minions. Lakers became associated with the anomalies we see in life. It stood for worshipping idols and for evil over good.
If you recall I had a pre conceived bias for this season and was eyeing some promising prospects coming out of this draft class. Lol. I felt this would be the last piece of the puzzle and also some retribution/token recovery for the foolish crimes committed by the disengaged, delusional primate posing as a gm.
However seeing the enthusiasm, camaraderie and selfless play being displayed by the young guns and vets like Nick young/Lou it is becoming increasingly hard to not root for them. There is sincerity in their endeavors and they are playing for one another. They understand that there is no superstar on the team and that the only way they stand a chance against more illustrious names, is by execution of the game plan and by playing together collectively on both ends of the floor.
They appear to have bought in to this congenial personality of the coach. What a refreshing turnaround. Hearing quotes from various players: "I just love him" and "we wanted to win this for him" shows how they view him as the caring big brother. Fans and players have both been yearning for this. It is not really the wins which matter but rather the way they play the game. And if they play the right way, the results are inconsequential.
Seeing this Esprit De Corps on display makes it so easy to gravitate towards their welfare and success. How can you not root for the good guys.
Lastly Randy like both of us had suspected, there is a stark decline in the number of posters. You know those usual suspects who used to rock those venomous blinders on lakers game day to see the reptile king do his thing...LMAO!! They have retired into the sunset like their master or jumped on the bandwagon of other winning teams built around shooters. I have this weird hunch that they might have invested in some prime wastelands near Oklahoma.
PS: I'm still not able to rep you as the same message kept appearing(spreading the wealth/ max 5 per member...lol).
Therefore please accept one in spirit...cheers!!
11/05/2016 - 09:37 PM PST
LTB HOF Bronze
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Was ready to jump on team tank again this season, but I have to say this has been a pleasant surprise to watch this team play these 1st six games. Looking at the standings, I see they're tied for 6th seed right now with 3 other teams , with two of those teams playing each other tomorrow. Feels good to root for wins again. Don't know how this season will turn out, but this team is definitely headed in the right direction.
11/05/2016 - 09:48 PM PST
LTB HOF Bronze
Nice to hear from you, old friend. Thanks for the good words. Like you, I never wrote here for popularity, just to state my views. Sometimes people liked them, other times not so much, just like with your writings, lol.
Yeah, some of the particular fans you mentioned seem to have faded away. Of course we remember the names, kind of like the litany of different dinosaurs, once they stalked the earth in huge numbers, now gone, just memories.
Without Kobe, I guess the thrill is gone for them. Of course for those fans who suffered through his last years of fatal egoism, the thrill actually can now begin to return. But not nearly so much for us as I am sure his erstwhile "teammates" for lack of a better word. I'm sure they were counting down the days last year for that special moment when the Mamba would never again grace their paths or screw up their games.
I think the great Dr. Martin Luther King probably said it best for all of Kobe's teammates when last season ended and what they were thinking:
I go back to Showtime and Kobe is the first Lakers superstar I have seen where I was actually happy to see leave and know for a fact his absence would allow the team to start to improve. I don't like saying it, I know its harsh, but Kobe made it so and nobody else is to blame.
But I will also say, it was not hard to root against that team with Kobe on it those last few years. He made it very easy to do it. I actually had tired of his act in the last Gasol years (just as you had) and the abomination he gave us after that was just horrific. It had become like bad Lifetime Movie, not even a new one, but a repeat you are forced to watch over and over till you know every lousy, contrived plot device and each line of corny dialogue.
As you know, because we have discussed it many times over the last few years, I was a strong member of Team Tank. Because of the influence of Kobe and the miserable decisions by Moron Mitch, losing, totally bottoming out was the last, desperate hope for us to reclaim those picks and get some talent here that was not coming by free agency as the Kupchak delusion and those who subscribed to it thought.
We were very lucky it happened that way, that we got those picks back, but it is a real shame that Mitch will reap the rewards of those picks he traded away. The last, best thing that could have happened was him getting axed and riding off into oblivion with Kobe and Scott.
There is that oft covered song, two out of three ain't bad and I guess it applies to us. We got rid of two and are still stuck with the third. Like the song says, It ain't bad but not what it could have and should have been.
The problem is, with Mitch still here, we have to overcome him to keep climbing the mountain. Can we? I guess we shall see.
But with that chapter of Lakers history now finally, happily behind us, man, I really got a shock with that game last night. But not because we won, because of what happened to me while watching.
You know Roman, it was funny. I was all set on rooting against the Lakers the other night. But within five minutes of the start I found myself rooting for them. They were playing so well and having such fun. The thing is, It wasn't a conscious decision where I thought, "Ok, you know what, I'm going to root for them." I just found myself doing it. Just like old times. And that took me aback. And at that point I did consciously think, "Wow, you are rooting for them to win again." And at that moment, I realized I was fine with it. That I am willing to root for this team even if they don't end up getting that pick they still really need.
So I realize, whether we get that pick or not, I will be pulling for them to win every game. And if we are bad enough to get that pick, well, that's just how it turns out.
You know Roman, one other thing. Your great unique creation, Team Tank has been around a long time. It had to be, out of necessity. If this season does end up bringing it to an end, another era of LTB and Lakers basketball also comes to a close.
Funny how time goes on.
11/05/2016 - 10:11 PM PST
LTB HOF Bronze
Yep. I'm right with you. I was all set to root against them all year. But I can't do it with the effort and joy they are exhibiting.
If we end up getting that pick, fine, we need it. But I'm really pulling for these guys and Walton.
11/05/2016 - 10:44 PM PST
Great blog Randy! I have to agree 100%- the team and the franchise has turned the corner. There will be some issues with consistency, IMO, but the talented young core is there, and the team attitude + reputation have improved. All those can be very attractive to big name free agents.
11/06/2016 - 02:48 AM PST
LTB HOF Silver
Location: Los Angeles, California
LOL...that Vid clip was epic. Brilliant analogy if I dare say so myself. A collective release upon being liberated. Mitch is still the roadblock we have to contend with. He is that Neanderthal who refuses to evolve. And now he has the bloody audacity to assume credit for the mini renaissance/uprising which is taking place out here:
What a fkn Buffoon. They got the picks because he flat out sucked at getting the right pieces or any free agents of substance to sign with us...not to mention the multiple picks he compromised. They got lucky with the picks because they stunk up the joint along with an aging superstar who was convinced that he was the second coming of Benjamin Button. Taking credit for the lottery picks? Gimme a break!!!
I have mixed feelings about the tank...lol. It served us well. "A friend in need is a tank indeed." It will be an emotional moment for "team team" if and when it finally gets decommissioned. When everything was bleak it was the only source of solace. And boy did it deliver!!! LOL..!!!
11/06/2016 - 03:40 AM PST
I would have to whole heartedly disagree with everything in your post. I'm sure you think your reasons are valid for feeling this way but it just sounds like to me you're a spoiled fan really. Not trying to throw shade here but some of you are taking for granted what you got out of Kobe. I'm not exactly his biggest fan but with all this hate in his later years has made me appreciate him a lot more. Most fans would give their unborn children to have the results that Kobe has given to this lakers fan base.
Even as great as Lebron has been throughout his career, none of you are going to tell me you would trade Kobe's 5 for Lebron's 3. Now I'm not comparing who is the better player. I'm talking strictly results. You can hate how we got to this point but there are plenty of teams in the NBA with 0 banners.
The way I see it is we made a deal with the devil and made it out unscathed. Yeah, the later years of Kobe's career has not been pretty but that is how most great players go out. Most don't just give it up so easily. They have to see for themselves that they can't physically do it anymore. When you're a big part of the reason those banners are put up there I say you've earned that.
I know I'm probably in the minority on this but oh well. For the record I was rooting against the lakers the last couple years purely to keep the picks. I'm realistic with the situation the lakers were in so I had no problem with it.
11/06/2016 - 09:43 PM PST
Casual Laker Fan
Glade to hear from you, I agree with everything you said.
Thank goodness for Luke Walton
I still wish Mitch would retire. "Contracts for Luol Deng 18 million a year DUMB" "Timofo Mozgo 16 million a year DUMB"
I am looking forward to progress from each player
SPQR you know Kobe was my guy from the start the Black Mamba("but we all know that Black Mamba's are POISONEOUS")
11/09/2016 - 02:40 PM PST
LTB HOF Bronze
Thanks for the nice words and the rep. It is so nice to watch a team where the players can play without looking over their shoulder at the coach or living in fear of the "star". You can see the difference like night and day. So not only are they having fun and yes, winning, but everyone watching them is too.
Great to see this new generation of Lakers finally being allowed to do their thing. The last few years were like torture, for two very obvious reasons, which were fired and retired after last year, lol.
How you doing?
Nice to hear from you too, bud. I wish Mitch would be fired, tarred and feathered and ran out of town.
Funny you mention Deng and Mozgo. The estimable Lakersfromass and I were just talking about those signings the other night, which I and many others opposed here when they happened, both of us just shaking our heads over them in dismay
There was no reason for them. This is a young team whose future is two or three years off. They should be building for that, not signing vets who will bring nothing to the final product. Those contracts will hurt down the road.
I honestly think Mitch made those moves because he was embarrassed that his big free agent fantasy plan bombed so he took those two to say, "See, we signed some free agents. People want to come here." And that is insane.
The biggest problem now going forward is we will have to over come and win in spite of this brain dead guy who still calls the shots for us but should have been fired years ago because of the decisions he made for half a decade that destroyed this team and almost cost us all the picks that got us Russell and Ingram and will most likely cost us our number one this year that we still really need.
It's tough when your GM is that bad. It's a lot to try overcome.
11/10/2016 - 07:42 AM PST
Die-Hard Laker Fan
Even tougher when other GM's know how bad he is, but will say " He is one of the more respected GM's around." That has to be GM speak for Mitch is really desperate you can get anything from him.
And I agree Mitch's signings are usually desperate and not efficient. I actually liked the Deng and Mosgov signings, BUT the years could have been shortened, but that is dead horse beaten and I just wanted to take a swipe at Mitch.
11/10/2016 - 03:02 PM PST
LTB HOF Silver
I would have to whole heartedly disagree with everything in your post. I'm sure you think your reasons are valid for feeling this way but it just sounds like to me you're a fan thinking of a younger Kobe. Each fan knows what Kobe has done in LA. I have a lot of love for Kobe because he brought me out of my seat too many times to remember. I also remember the other parts of Kobe and when we speak on those negative parts we are seen as unappreciative.
I always noticed the difference between Kobe being there and Kobe being absent. The players are loose, enjoying each other's company and so on and Kobe just seemed to make it a living hell for his teammates. It doesn't mean that they couldn't pick his brain and watch film with him but they couldn't be themselves.
Kobe's legend status can't be denied but some of these s were ready to see him go so that the franchise could move forward.
11/10/2016 - 03:16 PM PST
No, I remember all of what Kobe brought to the table. Good and bad. Like I said in my previous post. Its a deal with the devil and we as fans made out pretty handsomely I would say. People want him to be Tim Duncan or something but in the end their careers are very comparable. Duncan's career turned out better sure but in the end it amounted to the same amount of championships when it was all said and done. That to me is what matters most. You just seem to put more importance on that other peripheral stuff than I do. All I care about is the end result and I would say you were rewarded handsomely for it. Like I already said Lebron can be the best teammate in the world and all that is cute and all but me as a fan get nothing out of that. All I want to see is another banner hanging up.
11/10/2016 - 04:49 PM PST
LTB HOF Silver
Usually people regret a deal with the devil, I don't. I would have loved to see Kobe put the team first like Timmy and KG did but that's not who he was. I'm very big on team and Kobe showed he's a team guy as long as he was the main cog whether he's averaging 46% shooting or 37% shooting. Him being a shadow of himself wasn't best for the team. Anyway, it's about the kids now and I love how they play for each other.
11/10/2016 - 09:20 PM PST
Big-Time Laker Fan
Location: Staples Center
I wonder what Kobe is doing now?
11/10/2016 - 10:07 PM PST
This is weird for me to be defending Kobe like this because around my friends they consider me a Kobe hater so anyways, I agree with that he wasn't always great for the team and I'm also excited for the new chapter but my point was just enough with the parting shots. He's gone. Everyone has been taking their shots at him literally since he got back from injury. It's done and he has moved on. Just some how he's always brought back up.
Either way. Go Lakers!
11/11/2016 - 08:22 AM PST
LTB HOF Silver
How was that your point when you said you disagree with the entire post? The post was about why he rooted for the lakers. One small section of the post spoke on why he rooted against them during Kobe's reign. Yet you disagreed with the whole post wholeheartedly.
I've been called a Kobe hater but that's usually by Kobe's minions, The Mamba-ettes. That's because a few of us didn't have a problem pointing out some of the negatives while the rest of the team received the blame. It's done and overwith, I've been happy with their moves of late in regards to drafting, not moving young players for established names and their pick of a coach even though some members on the site weren't too happy they didn't interviews list of candidates first. This rebuild seems to be going in the right direction
11/12/2016 - 12:49 AM PST
Perfect and eloquent take as always Randy. You as I have been rooting for Lakers losses the last few years. The only difference is that I've been rooting for this team from day 1 this year. It's a nice fresh breath of air and yes "we are free, free at last".
We can finally enjoy a new exciting brand of basketball we've been missing. I'm finally excited to watch the Lakers. Its been a frustrating few years and I can now enjoy this team and proud to root for them. They now play as a team, and it's a great thing. Omg, it's finally looking up. I was hesitant of the hiring of Luke, but can see the energy and enthusiasm he brings.
I'm finally excited for the future. We have a young team, but can see the excitement they seem to relish. It's refreshing and promising. I'm ready to see how it unfolds. It's a great time to be a Laker fan once again. Good times brother.
Reppedl Randy. Thanks for the great post. Miss you dude..
11/16/2016 - 09:47 PM PST
LTB HOF Bronze
Great to hear from you. Thanks for the rep too. And as always, love seeing that classic avatar!
Yeah, well, we had to root for the best interests of the team, Dude, the last few years. What can you say? When you have a GM like Mitch who gives away your desperate needed number one picks for his crazy schemes and you have to finish near the bottom of the league to get them back, you root to finish near the bottom of the league, lol. Mitch left us no choice.
I'm excited too Dude. It's like coming out of a nightmare this year. Finally, the kids can be allowed to play and grow, instead of having to watch Kobe grow old. And what a difference it makes, no?
They are having fun, the team is having fun for the first time in oh, I'd say 8 years and the ball is finally moving around too. I forgot what that looked like and I'm sure the players did as well.
But that's all gone now. Now we can just enjoy watching them again, finally rooting for them again.
No, we won't win a title this year, may not even make the playoffs, but you know something Dude, that I found out long ago, if you can't have title contender right now, the next best thing to have is a young team, populated by exciting, good players and just watching them grow over the weeks, months and years. It really is fun. You don't have to win a ring to enjoy the team.
And man, in a couple years when these guys are hitting their strides, we will have been through it all, the drafting of them, watching them as kids, watching them learn and grow, and then the final payoff, which if Mitch doesn't screw it up, should be something so very terrific.
By the way Dude, don't know if you are an NFL fan, but I do my weekly blog her in the anything else section on the NFL games each week. I love that sport too.
Great to hear from you kid and I'm so glad that long time diehard and fan like you is getting to enjoy this new team.
Quick Reply: RE: Something Funny Happened During the Lakers Golden State Game