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The Lakers Main Goal For This Season Should Be Avoiding ‘The Stink’ Reviewed by Momizat on . Basketball fans are a funny bunch, myself included. We make fun of guys when they don't win by calling them losers and chokers and then we act surprised when th Basketball fans are a funny bunch, myself included. We make fun of guys when they don't win by calling them losers and chokers and then we act surprised when th Rating:
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The Lakers Main Goal For This Season Should Be Avoiding ‘The Stink’

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles LakersBasketball fans are a funny bunch, myself included. We make fun of guys when they don’t win by calling them losers and chokers and then we act surprised when they put themselves in better position to shed those labels and put an end to the name-calling. If you’re a Lakers fan who still harbors venomous ill-will towards Dwight Howard, then I ask you to forget for a moment that it was the Lakers who Dwight turned his back on and focus only on what he told Sam Amick of USA Today a couple weeks ago:

“A lot of people say, ‘Well, if you would’ve waited a couple years, then this could’ve been yours (with the Lakers),’ And I’m like, ‘In a couple years, I’m 30. I don’t want to wait. I’ve been in the league 10 years. I don’t want to wait for things to happen. I want to be aggressive, to make things happen. And I’m looking at all these young guys who are just ready, and they’re missing one piece. And I’m like, ‘I could be that piece, and I don’t want to miss my chance. James Harden doesn’t come by every 10 years. It doesn’t happen. It’s no knock on other players who I played with, but you’re talking about all these guys who are young and are going this way, going up, so I’m like, ‘Man, this is a great spot for me. A great town, great organization.’ They’re going this way (points up).”

Even if you think Dwight was dumb leaving all that money on the table, or leaving a franchise with the Lakers championship pedigree, you at least have to acknowledge the last part of that quote. Not because of what he said about the Rockets because of what he seems to be implying about the Lakers. That they, unlike the Rockets, are old and headed downward. I still don’t believe the Rockets are a legitimate contender to win a title just yet, but nobody can deny that there isn’t an awful lot of uncertainty surrounding the Lakers future. Now compare what Dwight said to what LeBron said when he decided to leave Cleveland and join the Heat in 2010:

“It is going to give me the best opportunity to win and win for multiple years. I want to win championships and I feel like I can compete down there.”

Both men changed teams because they felt another team presented them with a better chance to win a championship. But just because the Rockets are closer to a ring than the Lakers doesn’t mean they’re actually close. To give up all those millions just to cut from the back of the line to the middle was quite a gamble, but I understood it. There’s a lot the Lakers can learn just by studying the past few offseasons and examining where the good teams went right and the bad teams went wrong. They’re now the 45-year-old divorced dad who needs to relearn how to talk to women after 20 years of marriage. The most important lesson they can learn is that in today’s NBA, perception is always reality. I guess you could call this the “Fake It ‘Til You Make It Era”:

  • Step 1: Win at least 45 games
  • Step 2: Make the playoffs
  • Step 3: Avoid getting swept
  • Step 4: Overhype your younger players
  • Step 5: Write your own narrative
  • Step 6: Get enough people to repeat the narrative until it’s believed to be fact

If there was one thing that bothered me about everything that went on during that first week of free agency it was the way in which the basketball community spoke about the Rockets. If you’d never heard of the Rockets or Chandler Parsons before you’d probably think Parsons was the next Larry Bird and that it was the Rockets, and not the Spurs, who came within one win of a title.

How much of that talk about the Rockets’ bright future was true and how much of it was just hype perpetuated by a community that didn’t really care where Dwight signed, so long as it wasn’t with the hated Lakers? Funny how so many writers changed their perception of Dwight from him being a shell of his former self with the Lakers to now being the final piece of a championship puzzle just because he changed teams. Even though I continuously lauded Dwight for rushing back from injury and playing through pain, was there anything anyone saw from him last season that would give them them the right to say that he was back to being a top-five player before even a single game?

I get that the Rockets best players are much younger than those on the Lakers but we can’t ignore that Dwight’s decision was had to have been influenced by hype for a team that didn’t really prove that he was the missing piece. The truth is even with 176 player games lost due to injury, the Lakers and Rockets had identical regular season records and the Lakers had the higher playoff seed because they owned the tiebreaker. Neither team made it past the first round but unlike the Lakers, the Rockets managed to win two games against the Thunder once Russell Westbrook tore the meniscus in his right knee.

If Westbrook hadn’t been hurt and the Rockets had also been swept, would people have still spoken about the Rockets’ future as glowingly as either he did here or she did here? Wasn’t this the same team that lost seven straight games during the season, was an unimpressive 24-14 against teams at or below .500, and nearly choked away a playoff spot by losing four of their last six regular season games? Two teams with identical records, both eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, and yet one team looks back at their season as a rousing success and is considered the next great team while the other refers to their season as “The Season From Hell” and is now talked about like the ex-wife whose husband left her for a younger women after 35 years of marriage.

The Rockets aren’t the only team granted elite status prematurely. Why are the Golden St. Warriors, who not only lost three of their four regular season meetings with the Lakers, but also finished just two games ahead of them in the standings, suddenly considered legitimate title contenders? Is it because they upset a Nuggets team whose regular season record and playoff-seeding were incredibly skewed due to their remarkable 38-3 home record? I can’t figure out when we decided that what a team does over the course of four, six, or even 12 playoff games, against only one or two opponents, began to outweigh what they did over the previous 82. Nor will I ever understand why the basketball community has chosen to romanticize a 47-win Warriors team and magnify how they split the first four games of their series with San Antonio while simultaneously ignoring how they lost the next two games by an average of 15 points.

This is now the world we live in, I guess. Trendy teams, trending topics, and short attention spans. So many have been so quick to anoint both teams as the future with so little hard evidence there to support it. I get that both teams are finally healthy, both added respected free agents, and both have very young rosters with plenty of lottery picks amongst them. But young players, especially lottery picks, can so easily fool us into believing each of them will either meet or surpass our expectations for them. The truth is that it’s extremely difficult to concurrently develop multiple young players without hindering the progress of each of them in the process.

It isn’t just the rosters that have been so overhyped. I keep hearing about how great a GM Daryl Morey is, yet in his six seasons since he was hired the Rockets either missed the playoffs or were eliminated in the first round in five of them. Dwight Howard reportedly wanted Mike D’Antoni fired but I haven’t seen anyone mention that after 242 games, Kevin McHale still has a losing record as a head coach. But he had post moves 25 years ago so now he’s the perfect coach to lead Dwight to a championship.

Next Page: Why The Lakers Must Avoid ‘The Stink’

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About The Author

Andrew Ungvari is a Los Angeles native and a Lakers season ticket holder since 1989. Follow him on twitter @DrewUnga.

Number of Entries : 48
  • Akin

    I understand your point. But you are failing to realize that just like you have said, this kid Dwight prefers to be in a situation where there is less pressure. What most dont understand is that winning a championship is not all skill, there’s mental toughness required, ask MJ, ask Kobe, ask Dirk, they’ll tell you. I dont think Dwight has that (yet), Game 4 of the playoffs Lakers vs Spurs at home showed me that.. I gave up on kid right after that game. Like you said, Houston may be a contender, but this Laker team is just as good as they are right now. And with Kobe, far better..

    Its an advantage though, the Lakers will fly under the radar this year. I doubt we’ll win a ring, but the Lakers will prove everybody wrong this season.

    • AndrewUngvari

      I totally agree with you that Dwight lacks mental toughness. I’ve always believed that Dwight will never be the best player on a championship team. But he could still be the second-best. I was never a big fan of his but his loss will just make it that much harder to attract other big name free agents. You can’t deny that’s true.

  • LakersHeatBeef

    Frankly i don’t give a rats ass that Dwight Howard left the Lakers for Houston.I dislike Dwight Howard i have always hated his guts since he was playing in Orlando.

    I am not a butthurt Lakers fan,what i am is a realist Dwight Howard was boring to watch and if i had to describe his post game i would call it non existent.Add in he missed many free throws costing the Lakers wins.Yeah i am not interested in what Dwight says or does.Please focus on the Lakers future,not the Prima Donna Diva Dwight Howard.SCREW DWIGHT HOWARD!

    The Lakers have more cap space now and guess what the Lakers best route to rebuilding is via free agency not the NBA Draft.The reason being the Lakers have very little draft picks compared to a large amount of cap space coming up in 2014.

    Greg Monroe becomes a restricted free agent and the Pistons are probably keeping Andre Drummond over him also Josh Smith occupies their power forward position,so if the Lakers give Greg Monroe a huge contract the Pistons will back off IMO.Bang their is the new center the Lakers need and he actually passes the ball and makes shots and he works the post like a pro,he has more post moves than Dwight Howard ever will have.Lakers have moved on Stink is Dwight Howard he stinks.Lakers smell great.

    • AndrewUngvari

      Welp. We’ve gotten to the point where Greg Monroe is our savior. I hope the Lakers are never in a place where they need a guy that a 29-53 team doesn’t think is important enough to keep. I don’t hate Greg Monroe but if he’s your Plan A, B, or even C, with all that cap space, you’e in big big trouble.

      • AlvinMack55

        I’ll go ahead and say that I am very Pro-Monroe to L.A. It comes with the fact that I’m a Georgetown fan. I agree that he shouldn’t be their 1st option but, after the Kobe signing, what about trying to re-sign Gasol for cheap, target Deng or Gay at SF and then pursue Monroe as a C and maybe Mitch can pull off a trade for a PG.

        A pipe dream off-season for LA would end up with this next year (I’m guessing the $$$ won’t match so it’s just a dream):
        PG: Bledsoe
        SG: Kobe
        SF: Deng/Gay
        PF: Gasol
        C: Monroe

  • Paytc

    The “Main goal ” is to stay healthy and away from big babies who are not willing to put in the necessary work to improve their game.

    We will put our focus on what we want . What sense does it make to anticipate the worse?

    If each player is held accountable, and each are willing to “STEP UP ” we have a lot to be optimistic about. We have a lot of very good new additions and the team has the benefit of working under MDA system during preseason. They should have better chemistry because the players were chosen to fit the system and team’s needs.

    We plan to “STEP UP ” so there is no need to plan or worry about any so call “stink”.

    I understand writing non-sense to provoke a response is what many journalist use to gain notoriety .

    Why would any true Laker Nation Journalist want to cast shadows of doubt on the hopes of this years team? We plan to “rock” not sink or stink . Go Lakers !

    • AndrewUngvari

      I appreciate your optimism and I always hope for the best, but this team is clearly not a contender, so their goals need to change from those of winning a title to putting themselves in the best possible light to attract better players.

      You can call it “non-sense” but the intent here wasn’t to provoke or get reads. Nor am I looking for notoriety or even consider myself a journalist. I’m an editorialist who writes my opinions based on what I’ve gathered and seen in the past. I’m just more of a realist than you are. It’s great that you think this team is better than they are. understands that this is going to be a long season.

      Believe me, if this team has a winning record after 30 games, I’ll meet you in this comment section and admit that I was wrong. But if they’re not, I hope that you would do the same. Again, I hope you’re right and I’m wrong. I also hope that when I get home today there will be a suitcase filled with a million dollars in it.

      I’m not sure when some fans started to think that you can’t be critical of your team and still be considered a real fan. I live and die with the Lakers. I just know when a roster is good and when it’s mediocre and this team’s roster is slightly above-average.

      • Paytc

        AndrewUngvari,

        With all due respect we are both entitled to our respective opinions. And I have lived long enough to see many under dogs rise up and exceed expectations.

        Champions and those with heart “never” back down from a challenge. The Lakers that I am supporting like Kobe understand you have to show up to blow up, and never give up.

        When the 49ers won their first superbowl they came out of no where. It can be done

        The first step is “you” have to be personally sold on it.I am not coaching the team, but if any player peaks at the game I’m selling, they know what’s up.

        No disrespect but you could never be more of a “realest” than I am. To say the team is clearly not a contender? How do you know that is for certain? I think this team is as good as last year. And last year the Lakers made it to the playoffs.

        Obviously there are no guarantees. Obviously the Lakers are not the favorites.

        But obviously I am not the guy who promotes excuses or failures. There is a good mix of youth and experience on the team and a long legacy of winning. So I will ride with em through the challenges. Let all the suckers out there jump off and on bandwagons. Your perspective could be right, but I would not buy into a “can’t” win viewpoint,and I definitely would not sell it.

        It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about standing strong every step of the way.
        Who needs a fair-weather fan?

        The realiest stay true !

        Go Lakers !

        • AndrewUngvari

          You can’t compare a Super Bowl team to an NBA Champion. Winning one game or even four playoff games is not the same as having to win four Best-of-7 series along the way.

          I said they’re clearly not a contender because they’re clearly not a contender. The Las Vegas Hilton has their over/under on wins at 33.5 games. How much more evidence do I need than a businesses that is risking losing millions with that number.

          You think they’re a good mix of youth and experience. I think they’re a team made up of three future Hall of Famers past their primes and coming off major injuries and minimum-salaries guys who other teams have repeatedly passed on.

          If you think this team will win more than 33 games, get to Vegas and make a bet. You can make a lot of money.

          Go Lakers!

          • Paytc

            That is some good advice. Thanks ! And regardless to how many games you had to win the 49ers had come something like a 2-14 season the year prior to winning their first super bowl. They we’re big under dogs !

            Imagine how big that return was for anyone who placed that bet. Long shots are the only ones that pay large returns because they are far more risky.

            Play it safe is safer thus does not pay well.
            Again there are no guarantees. One thing is for sure, I would not want you to be coaching my team. But you seem like a nice person. Keep representing your perspective !

            Go Lakers !

          • Paytc

            There are many teams that over came large obstacles. Many do not recall that the Pittsburgh Steelers started out 1-4 and ended up winning the Super Bowl that year. It can be done. I am not here to look up all the times great odds were surmounted. I’m just here to stand behind the team and enjoy the discussions. Go Lakers ! Oh and I do have a book coming out soon :-)

          • AndrewUngvari

            And you keep making football analogies on basketball sites! You seem like a nice guy too!

          • Paytc

            Upsets are upsets it does not matter the sport. I’m sure there are a countless number of basketball teams pulling upsets on all levels of basketball to include the NBA all the time. The point is a team “can” over come great odds and exceed expectations. And it’s good to support your team thru good and bad. They can be fueled by your optimism that’s why home court advantage matters.

            I appreciate your response. I like the online discussions and many times I learn from them.

  • Jim213

    Been saying this since DH’s thankful departure. Players today want to compete for rings. Many (above average) players want to compete now and don’t want to wait 3 to 5 years down the line for a team to rebuild around them. With that said it’s hard to imagine that the Lakers wouldn’t have been in the title mix down the line.

    With two future HOF players and Gasol I’d doubt the Lakers wouldn’t had a chance to get a shot at a title down the line (2-3 yrs) if DH had stayed. The team lacked depth but especially chemistry which showed with all the injuries that transpired.

    Disagree with you avoid stinking team goals for next season. The team doesn’t have the burden of being a title contender as past this today. However, this doesn’t meant that they should acknowledge it and play with a chip on their shoulders.

    If the trip to China didn’t show them anything they play for the brand foremost. Playing competitive ball, building better chemistry, along with improving on defense is what I’d expect out of them for most of the season.

    If it so happens that management finds or puts forth a solid trade that will benefit the team in the long run (PG) then expectancy meter should be raised a notch. Although, I believe the team will make the playoffs much of it comes in my belief that Kobe will return around Late Dec early January (30 games played est).

    Build better chemistry with the current roster and let things fall were they may. Given that in the end possible future franchise player(s) will be looking at a team as a whole in determining if they have the right pieces to contend then and not down the line.

    • AndrewUngvari

      I don’t think that they’re only goal should be to not stink. I just think the franchise needs to do everything they can to try and make the playoffs. It seems like you and I agree on everything. There are ways to improve this roster without compromising full flexibility for next season. Even if it means giving 10 different guys 10-day contracts in hopes of finding a gem. They should always try to win. The franchise seems to agree because they’re clearly not tanking. What I’m saying is that even if they start out poorly, blowing off the rest of the season will have long-term ramifications.

      Thanks for the comment.

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  • Qing Zhang

    Lakers was ranked below 20th in October 2007, but ended up in the finals in June 2008. Rockets was ranked top 5.
    History repeats itself.

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