Another week, another series of painful losses for the Purple and Gold. At this point, it doesn’t matter who you prefer to blame. It could be Kobe Bryant, Byron Scott, Jim Buss, El Nino, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, or Red Auberbach’s ghost, but who really cares? The fact is that this team is not good. I wish I could spin it or stick my head in the sand (by the way, how does one actually stick their head in the sand? Imagine what that looks like. It’s not pretty). I can’t pretend. It’s bad. So, what’s a diehard fan of the greatest franchise in sports history to do when faced with the very real possibility that their favorite team might not win 20 games this season?
Golly, I’m glad you asked because I’ve prepared a handy listicle for you to refer to when you’re at your lowest point and considering selling your game-worn Kurt Rambis glasses you bought at the National Sports Collector Convention. These coping mechanisms are guaranteed to help you forget that 35-year-old Metta World Peace is currently the Lakers No. 1 scoring option!
Ignore Wins and Losses
We start with the most obvious thing. This team is headed for the lottery and might go into full tank mode to keep their pick. If you come from the Magic Johnson School of Team Management, you hope we lose every game. If you’re Kobe Bryant, you think you can make the playoffs even if you only have five wins at Christmas.Instead of siding with one of these legends over the other, why not just divorce yourself completely from the score of the game? Here are the fun parts of this Laker team that you can occupy yourself with rather than focusing on wins and losses:
1. D’Angelo Russell’s development
2. MWP’s effort to win the Most Improved Player award
3. Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle
4. Swaggy P heat checks
5. The classic “Roy Hibbert Incredulous Face”
Ignore Byron Scott
Seriously, just pretend like he’s not there. He’s Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense. He’s practically gone already! If team management has to decide between the basketball equivalent of the old man from ‘Up’ and their prized first-round draft pick, I think we know who they’re going to side with. But in case that doesn’t work and he sticks around past the All-Star Break…
Ask Lil B to Curse Byron Scott
It’s worked on James Harden and Kevin Durant. It will definitely work on Byron. Someone get him to do the cooking dance during a timeout in a nationally televised game. I’m sure it won’t be hard to convince Byron to do the dance, since I’m 100 percent certain he has no idea who Lil B is and may not even have the internet at home. Just tell him they’re filming a ’30 for 30′ about how great of a coach he is and they need him to mime “signing an autograph” for a montage. Also, be sure that Mike Breen clearly says “Byron Scott is doing the Lil B cooking dance on live TV! He’s really playing with fire here, Jeff!” during said timeout. Once the curse is in effect, we can all breathe easier. Thank you, Based God. All hail our new Thibs-ian Overlord.
Fly Your Lakers Flag for the Rest of the Season
One of the things I noticed in my time working with East Coast sports fans is that they look down on the Laker car flag — a sacred tradition in which fans attach flags with the team logo on the side of their automobiles during the playoffs. New York and Boston fans — you know, the ones with the droopy eyelids and unironed shirts — tend to see the appearance of the flag as a form of bandwagoning. It’s said that because the flags only come out during the playoffs, the people flying them must not be diehard fans. This is not true! The flag-wavers are some of the most tried-and-true fans out there, but it’s a playoff tradition and not a regular season one.
Here we are in this dark, dark time, so why not prove our critics wrong? I say, fly your flag. Do it for the rest of the season. It’s going to be tough to feel proud of this team when they’re getting blown out by 40 points in Utah, but at least feel proud of yourself and your fellow fans. In an era where the Lakers are much worse than we’re used to, flying your flag is an act of defiance.
Develop an Alternate Scoring System That Allows the Lakers to Win Their Games
They’re not winning many games with the old “baskets count for two or three points” rule. So, I suggest creating a new system for your own personal use, one that emphasizes the strengths of this team. For instance, in your new scoring system, made, contested, unassisted three-pointers count for 10 points instead of 3. In your NBA fantasy world, Lou Williams is the league MVP. Another idea: the team with the best looking uniforms automatically gets a 20-point advantage. Name an NBA team with better uniforms than ours? Exactly.
If you create this alternate universe scoring system and keep score during every Laker game, you’ll find that this team is quite good. Especially when they’re awarded 5 points every time Roy Hibbert trips on his own shoelaces.
Become an Expert on the Laker Girls
L.A. without the Laker Girls is just Phoenix with better weather. Let the squad know you care. Analyze their routines. Watch the Time Warner Cable SportsNet show so you can learn their names, hobbies, pet peeves, etc. Take the time to understand and appreciate the fundamentals of dance. Cheer louder for them than the Lakers when you’re at Staples. What I’m saying here is that the Laker Girls deserve your support and will appreciate when the fans start showing that appreciation. They’re cheering for a bad team, which I guarantee you is not easy.
Thrill at the Underachieving Clippers!
You don’t need me explaining this one to you, do you?
Remember to Appreciate Kobe Bryant
In last week’s column, I was pretty harsh on the Black Mamba. The statistics I cited showed that he was a major drag on the offense. But, with him sitting out the last two games — both defeats — it’s clear the problems run deeper than just Kobe’s offensive struggles. We’re not going to miraculously turn this season around with or without Kobe. So what do we do? I guess to make this season less painful, we have to do the exact opposite of what I told you all to do last week. We need to embrace the history and legacy of Kobe Bryant.
Kobe needs to announce he’s not coming back as soon as possible so that the fans, the players, and the media can honor him the way he deserves. It’s my job as a sportswriter to be impartial and critique his performance honestly, but Kobe’s my favorite Laker of all time and I don’t want to get so wrapped up in the team’s fortunes that I can’t appreciate his swan song. I’m going to be struggling with the two sides of my basketball brain the rest of the year, and I imagine other Laker fans will too. I want them to win in the future, which means Kobe needs to play fewer minutes and shoot less so the team can grow and mature as a unit. If we all want to not lose our minds during this traumatic season though, we might have to learn to enjoy the Kobe Farewell Tour more than we ever wanted to.