As is the characteristic of the classic underdog, the Lakers enter the game with essentially nothing to lose. Even if the Lakers lose, they still hold the cards, still get to make goo-goo eyes at the O’Brien trophy and Lawrence Tanner will still get to say “World Champion” before he announces the team. It’s no secret that the Heat need a win against the Lakers more than the Lakers need a win against the Heat.
“We’ve gotten rocked on Christmas day and won a championship,” recalled Bryant. “We’ve done the rocking on Christmas day and won a championship. [The result] doesn’t matter, one way or another it’s all about how you improve as the season goes on.”
So the result doesn’t matter? No really, the Lakers going on an 8-0 run to start the season, even without their starting center Andrew Bynum, had absolutely nothing to do with sending a message out to the league that the championship went through them, not the Heat. When Phil Jackson compared the Heat’s mega free agent signings to when the Lakers signed Wilt Chamberlain to combine with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, but after four years together never won a title, it was just a random thought. We all know Coach Jackson would never purposely take a jab at someone.
It’s not like the Lakers make a habit out of looking at the schedule to circle what teams they’re going to make a concerted effort to dismantle ahead of time, but Christmas day against the Miami Heat—it’s circled.
If you think the Lakers consider their Christmas day showdown against the Heat just another game in an 82-game season, you must’ve had too much eggnog. The Lakers care and they want to bring the Heat back down to Earth.
I’m calling your bluff Mamba, happy holidays.