Game 5 was exactly the type of game that makes me question the true value and worth of being such a devoted, purple and gold hemorrhaging, editorial writing die-hard fan if the team is not even going to play hard. At minimum, you’d expect the Lakers to play with some heart and pride as defending champions.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sore loser due to my ultra competitive nature, but I am not so delusional that I can’t acknowledge failure to perform. As I said last week, if we played our hardest and lost, that’s one thing, but the lackadaisical, selfish effort on defense and in rebounding that we’ve seen from our players as of late, is a pill that I just can’t seem to get down my pipe.
As a professional athlete, especially one blessed to be playing for one of the legendary iconic franchises in sports history period, obviously aside from any extenuating family related circumstances, is there any reasonable excuse to not play at 150% ferocity in the NBA Finals?
To me, not playing above and beyond your capacity on this stage is a clean backhand slap in the face to all of us who would kill to be in the position of a Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom. Ahem.
What made me want to run through walls while screaming until I spewed out blood during Game 5 was when after each uncontested finish at the rim by the Celtics, how our guys, mainly our bigs, simply looked around at one another with a look of disdain, pointing fingers at each other.
Rather than thinking, “You know what, I don’t care if I foul out, they’re not going to score another layup on my watch”, our bigs chose to engage the cowardly cop out blame game.
No play better encompassed our selfish defensive play than Nate Robinson’s layup off of pick and roll action in which Sasha was caught between sticking to Ray Allen and helping on the drive. I was disgusted with how Pau and Lamar immediately locked eyes upon Vujacic and started berating him rather than holding themselves accountable for not protecting both the rim and Sasha who for all intensive purposes, made the right play in not vacating Allen’s airspace.
If you watch the replay, neither Gasol nor Odom were that occupied under the rim, but more so allowed Rasheed Wallace to essentially block them out single-handedly as they haplessly watched the diminutive Nate score the easy hoop.
Even if there was any player on the Lakers who has earned the right to lay blame upon his teammates, Pau and LO have certainly not done anything to fit that build. If they want to look around at who’s largely responsible for what has been a completely erroneous defense, they should look no further than inside their hearts.
Gasol has been getting blasted around in the paint with retaliatory effort about as sturdy as baked salmon and Odom has been getting his manhood shredded to kibbles and bits by trash like Big Baby. Both players have slowly wriggled away in fear of the playing up to the moment since Game 3.
While the Lakers have gradually gotten worse as a team since Game 1, there is a beautiful side to all of this as well.
Nothing that’s transpired over the last week and a half matters anymore. What we are faced with now is a 3-2 deficit with home court advantage in our grasp.
By and large, the Celtics protected their home floor and now it is merely our turn to do the same.
NEXT: “Man up and play.”