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NBA 09-10 – Two Weeks In: The Lakers’ Chase for 16

Last year at this time, November 2008, the beginning of the NBA season, I was excited.

I was prepared.

Significantly motivated.

Ready to avenge a humiliating loss from several months earlier that had rudely ended the season.

I knew the Los Angeles Lakers were going to win the 2008-09 NBA Championship. There was no way the Lakers were going to be denied, not with the way they had lost to the hated Boston Celtics in the aforementioned Game 6 of the 2007-08 Finals.

I stewed all summer of 2008, like I was a Laker player. Up till then in my life, I’d never been much of an early-season NBA fan (because the end of baseball’s regular season, baseball playoffs, and NFL/NCAA football usually take priority during the fall), but last October, I was ready, even in preseason.

I watched every game. I read all non-game-day news and events. I scrutinized the players’ interview attitudes and preparation methods in the weeks leading to the start of the season.

And I was happy with what I saw. Kobe Bryant had his game face on from the first preseason camp meeting. Derek Fisher talked about completing the task. Pau Gasol was frustrated with being called out for being “soft” in the Finals against Boston. Lamar Odom acknowledged being hungry to win a ring.

I was so confident about the season and how well they were going to do that I made a bet with my friend, Kaz, as to how many wins the Lakers would have by a certain date just after the All-Star break.

I lost by a game. But I was so confident in my belief as to the total number of season wins the Lakers would have that we made another bet.

That time, I won by a game.

By the time the playoffs started, my belief in Championship No. 15 for the Lakers was as solid as my loathing for the Celtics is. I was never worried, even when the Lakers were pushed by the Rockets or Nuggets. I wasn’t happy when they lost a game, to be sure, but I was never worried about the Final(s) result.

In fact, when the Lakers won the championship, I didn’t even watch. Of course, I wanted to, but I had work obligations that I couldn’t shirk. Yet, I wasn’t even disappointed I couldn’t watch because I knew the 15th Championship was inevitable.

In fact, the only thing that really bothered me about last season was that the Lakers didn’t sign Ron Artest during that off-season. I was really upset about that.

Which brings us to the 2009-10 season that has only recently gotten underway.

I am again confident the Lakers will win the NBA Championship, their 16th.

But I’m not as motivated, committed, excited, or prepared as I was last November.

There is no revenge itch that needs to be scratched.

I’ve even already missed one game – and I was home in front of the tube, not at work.

And that worries me.

The injuries to Gasol and Bynum, which have prevented the former from playing at all so far this season and the latter from playing the last two games, don’t really bother me.

The mostly-soporific way The Bench Mob (the reserves) have played is not a concern at this stage.

Ron Artest was finally signed this past off-season, which made me happy, and he’s taking time to adjust to his new teammates as they are still taking time to get used to him. The time will come soon when everyone will be comfortable with each other.

Kobe has had to score a lot in the early going as Ron-Ron adjusts, The Bench Mob play out of their funk, and the injuries get healed. But that’s okay.

I’m not particularly concerned about those things.

No, what worries me is this: me. My attitude. My lack of commitment and motivation. My aloofness to missing a game or two here in the early parts of the season.

You see, to me, as a fan, not being committed to the cause can is not wise. It’s like betting against the Lakers: it’s bad karma and I won’t do it. Yes, it’s a long season, but strength of mind and body are needed to make it through the grind of 82 games.

Even for a fan.

And, so far, I’m disappointed with my effort. I’m not injured. I haven’t had the flu. I didn’t get signed in the off-season as a new fan; I’m a veteran. And I still wear a Laker shirt and/or cap every game day.

They have won five games in a row. They looked outstanding in their last game – against the Hornets on Sunday at Staples Center.

But I have no passion right now. It’s a lackadaisical effort on my part. But, why?

Am I resting on the Lakers’ laurels? Is it the knowledge that after the first seven weeks of the season (where the Lakers play 18 of 21 at Staples), the Lakers have a tough three months or so of monster travel, particularly three road trips of five games or more, including the month of March when they play only 4 of 15 at Staples?

I don’t know the reason for my poor effort thus far. But I’ve got to change it.

And it’s just dawned on me, just now as I wrote that last sentence, how I can change it. I see something motivating me. I see signs of some things that are going to get me out of my funk.

But I’m going to save that for next time – or maybe even the time after.

My apologies, but I need to test something out and see if the initial part is successful.

Because, if it is, then I’ll have my game face back on – like I had last year – and I’ll be ready to do my part to get the Lakers their 16th Championship.

And I’ll be ready to share it next time.

Peace…

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