After falling to the Dallas Mavericks 98-92 on Friday night, many Los Angeles Lakers fans must be thinking to themselves “Ahh! There are two red buttons! Which one should I press?”
The answer to that question all depends on who you are.
If you’re a diehard Lakers fan that considers themselves a part of the team, that goes through the ups and downs just as the players do, that loses sleep over every missed buzzer-beater and celebrates in jubilation with every made buzzer-beater then press the left button. If you’re a diehard Lakers fan that eats, sleeps and breathes Laker basketball then it’s about time you press the left “Panic” button.
If you’re the classic bandwagon fan that jumps on whichever team is doing the best, that acts like you’re a part of the fan base but runs whenever the teams starts heading downhill then press the right button. If you’re a bandwagon Lakers fan that isn’t emotionally attached the the team, you should definitely press the right “Eject” button to eject yourself off the bandwagon.
The Lakers headed into the season as the favorite in the Western Conference to make it back to the NBA Finals. After all, they were the two-time-defending NBA Champions with Kobe Bryant and a boatload of interior size.
As the Lakers’ season unfolded, some doubts squeezed their way into the heads of the fans, media and possibly even the players. Then, the Lakers went on a ridiculous stretch after the All Star break and squashed the doubts anyone once had. With the end of the season nearing, the Lakers tried to snatch away the #1 seed in the Western Conference from the San Antonio Spurs but failed and tumbled to the finish line.
Heading into the playoffs, the Lakers were still everyone’s favorite despite their inconsistent play. Everyone assumed the Lakers would flip the switch. Even if the switch stalled for a few games, they had Kobe Bryant, arguably the best player in the NBA. The Thunder were a year away, the Spurs were too old, the Nuggets had their “Melo-drama,” and the Dirk Nowitzki led Mavericks were your classic choke artists who were too soft to hang with the Lakers.
With the Game 3 loss in Dallas and the Lakers face a daunting task — to become the first team in NBA history to come back from being down 3-0 in a series — it’s safe to say we were wrong.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder are ready to contend this year. The maturation of Russel Westbrook and Kevin Durant has happened right before our eyes. The trade deadline acquisition of Kendrick Perkins makes the long, big and physical on the interior and a true force to reckon with in the NBA.
- There was more to the Lakers than just flipping a switch. After Game 2, Andrew Bynum noted “trust issues” in the Lakers’ locker room. It’s quite possible that a few of the Lakers flipped the switch, but the rest of the team didn’t.
- Most importantly, the Dallas Mavericks haven’t been choke artists and have proven they aren’t too soft to hang with the Lakers. In fact, the Mavericks have been clutch in the series against the Lakers. Twice this series, the Mavericks have come from behind in the 4th quarter to beat the Lakers. In the 4th quarter alone, the Mavericks have outscored the Lakers 82-55.
If you pressed the “Panic” button, you should be worried about the future of the Lakers. If you pressed the “Eject” button, don’t expect to be back on the Lakers bandwagon anytime soon. With a core group of players over the age of 30, the Lakers aren’t getting younger, and the West is only going to be getting better. The window of the Lakers’ dominance is rapidly closing and being swept by the Mavericks may only kick it into high speed.
Tonight, the Boston Celtics look to avoid falling into a 3-0 hole just as the Lakers did. With the series heading back to Boston and Shaq returning, the spirits of Boston fans must be higher than those of the Lakers. Talk about adding insult to injury.