2004-12-24

Dark Days of a Laker Fan


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Back when it became clear that even LA was not big enough for its two pampered stars (three if you count Phil Jackson), I had hoped that the Lakers would stick with Kobe and the youth and will to win that he seemed to have.

Little did I anticipate the year and a half (and counting) metamorphosis in LA's young star. Once a refreshingly different superstar and winner, Kobe has become a typical, NBA-caliber thug. And, with him at the helm, the Lakers have become a team that will win some and lose some as their lone star worries first about his personal stats, then about his team's fate. Out West, the best LA can hope for under Kobe, is a string of first-round playoff departures.

So, when seeing a renewed Shaq fueling the success of the Miami Heat, do I wish the Lakers had stuck with their big man instead? Unfair question. What I wish is that Shaq had shown up in shape and motivated when he played for the Lakers as he has done for the Heat. Shaq is doing well because he's got something to prove. Had he stayed in LA he likely would have continued to be a flabby, uncaring lump.

LA mortgaged their future to keep Kobe. It's hard for me to imagine what it will take to return the Lakers to NBA dominance. However, it's even harder to imagine the Lakers dominating with Kobe on board, so I guess something drastic is going to have to happen.

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