By: Dylan Sam Jones
These are troubling times for Lakers fans. All the typical indicators of a lost season are both ominous and obvious. A six game losing streak. A coach no one believes in. A plethora of injured players — including a franchise shooting guard by the name of Kobe Bean Bryant. The second-worst record in the Western Conference. Near-daily trade rumors regarding Pau Gasol. Non-Southern California based pundits claiming the best thing for The Lakers to do is to “tank” in exchange for a high draft pick. The writing is on the wall, the 2013 – 2014 season is utterly lost. The good news for Lakers fans though, at least the way I see it, is that there is a silver lining to this dark cloud of a season we are all engulfed in.
I am a twenty-nine year old diehard Lakers fan, which mathematically means a couple of different things. I have witnessed every single year of Kobe Bryant’s illustrious career. I had the privilege of being a fan during the Shaq/Kobe/Phil three-peat era. I scoffed at (and reluctantly rooted for) the failed Karl Malone and Gary Payton debacle and I cheered for the Kobe/Pau/Phil back-to-back era. I also cheered, at a young age, for the Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones era Lakers in the 90’s, which believe me, was a tough thing to do. It wasn’t easy being a fan of a team which prided itself on players like Cedric Ceballos and Elden Cambell (or even Vlade Divac . . . ugh!) But on the other hand, I was ten years old. I didn’t know any better. All I knew was that I absolutely loved the Los Angeles Lakers and through thick and thin, I was a fan.
Sadly, as we are all becoming increasing aware as the losing streak continues, the 90’s era of Vlade Divac and Cedric Ceballos is back. Lakers fans must root for players like Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman, while at the same time secretly hoping the Lakers do end up “tanking” enough that the franchise gets a top-five draft pick. These are dark and confusing times for Lakers fans, but if my twenty-nine years on this earth have taught me anything, it is this.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of death and damnation, the Lakers too will never say die. Whether it is in fact “tanking” and earning (fingers crossed) the No.1 draft pick or making a marquee trade for LeBron James in the near future, the Lakers have always found a way to remain relevant and successful. Vlade Divac just didn’t work, so what did the Lakers do? They traded him for a rookie named Kobe Bryant! Del Harris didn’t work either. Solution? The Zen Master Phil Jackson! Andrew Bynum was okay, but the franchise needed more. Solution? Well, okay, that didn’t work, but the point is that the Lakers are willing to do what it takes to keep respect and honor in the city of Los Angeles. Though there may be failed experiments along the way (Rudy Tomjanovich, Dennis Rodman, etc.), there will, no doubt, be key decisions made by the front office to bring glory back to Los Angeles and hang another Lakers (not Clippers!) banner in the Staples Center.
In the mean time Lakers fans, the only thing we can do is just be patient and keep believing in the team that we love oh so much. Why? The answer is simple: Because we, like the ten year old version of myself, just don’t know any better. We love our Lakers through thick and through thin, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Just remember, it’s times like this that make the championship years so sweet.
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