I recently got into a conversation on Twitter with a Lakers fan named Elijah Obasanya, who took issue with something I’d written.
What I took away most from our conversation was that he believes that Kobe winning his sixth ring would be a bigger deal than the Lakers tying the Celtics by winning their 17th. And while Kobe can’t win a sixth ring without the Lakers winning their 17th, there’s still a difference.
I asked Daniel Buerge who runs LakersNation’s Twitter account to poll their followers and ask which was a bigger deal to each of them. There were far more people who felt the Lakers tying the Celtics was a bigger deal but there were still a lot of people who felt that Kobe winning his sixth would be a bigger deal.
I got a little bit of an education that night. I learned that there was such a thing as Kobe fans who weren’t necessarily Lakers fans. Those were the people who were rooting for the Celtics to beat the Heat in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. The ones who would rather see the Celtics win an 18th title than see LeBron win his first. But that’s not all I’ll take away from that night. More importantly, I learned that it was really just a generational issue.
There’s an entire generation of Lakers fans who couldn’t care less about the Celtics because it’s hard to have a deep-seeded and passionate hatred for a franchise that was a laughingstock for most of their lives. It’s true that the Celtics had a losing record in 11 of the 14 seasons between 1993-94 and 2006-07 — especially when the Lakers won five championships between the last two Celtics titles (then added another two afterward, just for good measure).
What I’m trying to say is that it’s not your fault. It’s our fault. As Peter Tosh once sang, “You can’t blame the youths of today.” It reminded me of this music review of Public Enemy’s classic album “It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back” done a few months ago by an intern at NPR. Can I really be mad at a kid who thinks Drake is better than Public Enemy? It’s my generation’s fault for allowing this punk to go through life thinking that it was okay for a man to admit such an opinion out loud.
It wasn’t only that I grew up during a time in which the Celtics were relevant but I was also schooled on why, as a Lakers fan, it was my civic duty to hate the Boston Celtics. I wasn’t alive to suffer the heartbreak of watching the Celtics win seven straight NBA Finals over the Lakers. That pain was thrust upon me like religious guilt.
I can’t think of a better way to educate you all on why you should hate the Lakers than with the words of ESPN’s resident Lakers-hater, Bill Simmons. If this doesn’t ignite your Celtics hatred than, I’m sorry, you’re a lost cause:
Magic’s Lakers barely squeeze through as a dynasty because they overlapped with Bird’s Celtics. Can you have two dynasties at the same time? Isn’t the point of a “dynasty” that you conquered everyone else over a prolonged period of time? And also, the ’86 Celtics were better than any single Lakers team over that stretch. In the end, I made them a dynasty just because of those nine Finals appearances — an incredible number, especially given how competitive the NBA was in the 1980s.
If that doesn’t make your blood boil then blame my generation for not passing on the hatred that was instilled in each of us. First of all, how the hell does a team that made it to nine NBA Finals in 12 years, winning five of them, “barely squeeze through” as a dynasty?
How is this guy able to live in L.A. without needing a full-time bodyguard after writing these things as facts and not just horrible opinions? He goes on to say, as fact and not opinion, that Len Bias’ death is the only thing that stopped the Celtics from snatching the 80s away from the Lakers.
I’m surprise he wasn’t forced to move out of the city after he wrote this scathing article trying to discredit Kobe’s first championship without Shaq. If you’re into torturing yourself, go ahead and read him glorifying Kobe’s number of shot attempts while just barely glossing over the 7.4 assists per game he averaged over the five Finals games, including eight in each of the first four games. He also does a nice job reminding us of the role Trevor Ariza played in the 2009 Playoffs. In doing so he makes the case, albeit unknowingly, for what a difference a healthy Ariza would have made against Finals MVP Paul Pierce the year before. As you might recall, the Lakers were forced to guard Pierce with Vlad Radmanoic and Luke Walton.
So if you’re scoring at home, Simmons believes an alive Len Bias and a healthy Kendrick Perkins in 2010 equals guaranteed championships but Trevor Ariza and Andrew Bynum’s health wouldn’t have made a difference in 2008.
If that’s not bad enough, here’s what he wrote about George Mikan’s Lakers teams reluctantly being included on his list of dynasty teams:
Mikan’s Lakers (six years, five titles), who have to be included even though they thrived before things like “the shot clock,” “dunking” and “multiple black guys on each team.”
On multiple occasions Simmons has made it a point to try and exclude the championships the Lakers won while in Minneapolis. Here’s what he wrote in July:
A 17th title for the Lakers, which would technically match Boston’s 17 titles even though five of those Laker titles happened in Minneapolis in the 1940s and 1950s. If you count those five, that’s EXACTLY like adding Seattle’s 1979 NBA title to Oklahoma City’s ongoing total … right? That won’t stop Lakers fans from pretending that they “tied” Boston even if they didn’t. I’m already pissed off and it hasn’t even happened yet.
So he believes that Mikan’s titles are invalid because of the absence of the shot clock, dunking, and black players. But, according to Simmons, if we must consider them legitimate titles, they shouldn’t be included in the Lakers grand total because they were won in a different city.
Translation: Bill Simmons is scared of the inevitable and has already started to discredit said inevitability preemptively. Who does that? Bill Simmons does that with absolutely no regard of how embarrassed other Celtics fans should be by it.
Next Page: Simmons’ Reality Is Actually Fantasy