Basketball fans are surely in a dour mood today. The announcement that the NBA lockout was officially upon us was decidedly unsurprising and yet no less depressing for the extended notice. I’d wager to say that I’m not alone in holding a bleak outlook for the prospects of an agreement being in place before the scheduled start of the season. Both sides are digging in hard and there is little impetus to negotiate further, at least on the owners side, until the ramifications of the work stoppage hit home (see: missed paychecks). But for the Los Angeles Lakers maybe a shortened 2012 campaign wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Yeah, you’re skeptical, but hear me out.
L.A. ended the 2011 season on a bitter note. They looked tired, uninspired and a basically a shadow of the team that displayed poise and grit in winning back to back championships the previous two years. But if it was fatigue, both mental and physical, that did them in then wouldn’t a prolonged absence actually serve them well in hopes of returning to the promised land?
In the lockout shortened season of 1998-’99 there were only fifty games on the schedule. There was a three game preseason, no All-Star game and the Spurs won a championship that Phil Jackson later qualified as needing an ‘asterisk’ in the record books. But what would a fifty game schedule mean to the 2012 Lakers? Consider a few key facts about this squad (assuming of course that there are no major alterations once the lockout finally ends).