My meandering disquisition (previous entry) on the practice of missing was part of my attempt as I was taking my afternoon walk to puzzle through the question: What is Wrong With the LA Lakers? I probably should have been thinking about: What is Wrong with the Economy. But that’s just too depressing and frankly I am clueless. So thinking about the Lakers is a less depressing option, if one must think about something, though in its own way depressing.
I have been watching that damn team for almost 30 years. That means I have made an emotional investment, and I have wished lately that I had not done so. Much like the stock market, the Lakers lately have seem to full of inexplicable ups and downs.
My aggravation coalesced when listening to the TNT basketball show with Ernie Johnson, Kenny "The Jet," and Charles "Chuck" Barkley. They were discussing, in light of the Laker’s recent performance, whether the Lakers had what it took to win the championship. They were far from sure about that, and then Barkley, rather out of nowhere, said, in effect that even if they did win the whole thing, they didn’t deserve to win.
The whole conversation for a basketball show then got weirdly serious. What the hell did Barkley mean? Surely, if you win the championship you deserve it. But no, Barkley said, the Lakers, he said, did not deserve it if they did win because they "did not respect the league." Now, what the hell did that mean?
Then Barkley got a bit more personal–some sort of psychological issue was involved for him. He never was on a team that won the championship, and he said he had never had the opportunity to play with players as good as Pau Gasol, or Andrew Bynum, or even Lamar Odem (all on the current Laker team), and it just pissed him off to see them playing so half-assed. He pounded the desk, as I recollect, and seemed almost to be growling. The others–EJ, "The Jet", and C. Webb (Chris Webber)–didn’t seem to get it either, or at least not enough to say whether they agreed or disagreed, although they did allow that something seemed amiss with a team that felt it could turn it on or off at will.
Here I was, at that time, feeling all messed up about my identification with the Lakers, and there was Chuck too involved in some sort of complex psychological relation to a team that awakened in him a sense of loss at never even had the opportunity to play as the Lakers might play were they ever actually to apply themselves.
In any case, that’s the Lakers for you.
Or, more precisely, that’s Kobe because he is the heart of the matter, and right behind him at the heart, is that strange fellow, Phil Jackson, sitting there in his elevated chair (that he needs for his back problem) looking like a wan and decaying Buddha