As my previous article (which you can read here: https://lakersnation.com/?p=13246) contends, the Lakers are attempting something that has only been accomplished three times before, in the history of the league.
And yet, amazingly, and based solely on their regular season record, this team has somehow become incapable of winning it all again.
This cliché, by the way, is as absurd as the one about flipping the switch.
In truth, the NBA regular season really only matters for those teams that have no shot at winning the title, or for guys named Lebron. For the true title contenders, the regular season is like that long, dreary ride through the desert on the way to Las Vegas; necessary but definitely not worth staying awake for.
And that’s exactly what the Lakers have done. They’ve hit the cruise control and coasted along all season, biding their time until the lights of the big city are finally visible on the horizon.
The Lakers received mostly F’s for their mid-season grades. And, with 20 games left until playoffs, it’s almost report card time again.
As they approach what Jackson refers to as the “meat” of their remaining schedule, the Lakers will soon find out if they truly have what it takes to repeat. The results of the next 10 days, in which they will face Charlotte, San Antonio, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Orlando should provide the final word heading into the playoffs on where this team will likely end up.
Phil Jackson has always said, it’s more important for his team to be playing the right way come March and April as opposed to December and January. So the team gets a hall pass for the first half of the season.
As for now, the post All-Star game progress report has the Lakers receiving an “E” for effort.
They’re trying to be better.
They’re trying to recapture the focus and execution needed to win a third consecutive championship.
Most importantly, they’re trying.
There’s no telling how the Lakers will finish this season. But whether they pass or fail is entirely up to them. When the Lakers have played against potential playoff teams this year, you can still glimpse the greatness of a champion still lurking inside.
Even when those games haven’t resulted in wins, it’s good to know the Lakers can still compete when they put their hearts and minds to it. And I’d still pick them in a seven game series against anyone.
The problem is and always has been effort. When the Lakers give it, they win. When they don’t, they lose. The bright lights on the horizon aren’t as far off as they seem, and their progress reports are on the way. This time, let’s hope they get there!