Saturday, December 03, 2005

Lakers Loyalty

I was born a Laker fan.

One of the few memories I have of my father, is the passing of his allegiance of the Lakers Nation. When I first learned to play the game I remember trying to mimic the unique shooting style of Jamal Wilkes. When I learned to play the game better, my best shot was the sky hook that I saw Kareem Abdul Jabbar utilize to perfection every game on my television screen. When I grew older I wore my socks high like Michael Cooper, which look especially lame now when I look at old pictures, cause I wore those tight Ocean Pacific corduroy shorts.

I cried, like a bitch, when Magic Johnson retired due to the H.I.V virus, and I teared up in happiness when he returned to the 90's LakeShow. I still have the ticket stub to that game.....Against Golden State..... At the Forum.

When the Lakers struggled through the 90's I remained loyal.

I thought Sedale Threat played with heart. I liked watching Orlando Woolridge dunk the ball with authority. I was comforted by the solid rebuilding process that Jerry West was putting together. Players like Anthony Peeler and George Lynch showed great promise. Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones were amazing draft picks.

Then came Jerry West's crowning achievement.

The signing of Shaq.

And perhaps Jerry West's biggest mistake....

The trade for Kobe Bryant.

Of course it's hard to criticize three championships. But in retrospect, the fall of Laker Nation is traced back to the trading of Vlade Divac for the High School star from Lower Merion. There's no denying the athletic ability of Kobe Bryant, there are moments of athletic brilliance that defy description.

But the issue with Kobe has never been talent, it's a matter of leadership character.

One has to question the leadership qualities of a person who would demand the dismissal of the greatest single weapon perhaps in all of N.B.A. history. For those that would argue that Kobe didn't ask for Shaq to be traded, well the truth is, he didn't demand that he stay either.

From what it looks like, Kobe wanted to be the undisputed leader of the Lakers. He got his wish.

Ownership obliged by sending away one of the most dominate, personable, popular, not to mention marketable players in N.B.A. history.

Not only sending him away, giving him away. For non all-star caliber players.

But this is old....Bitter....News. The issue at hand is Lakers Loyalty.

The term loyal is defined as firm and not changing in your friendship with or support for a person or an organization, or in your belief in your principles.

In the sports world, there is nothing more taboo than lack of loyalty.

That's why it pains me when I admit that my loyalty in the Lakers has been shook.

The truth is, as much as I try I can't feel enthusiasm for a one man team. Which is exactly what Kobe's Lakers are. Ownership has basically passed the keys of the Porsche, over to the spoiled 15 year old kid, and told him he can do whatever he wants.

And what he wants is to shoot the ball.....A lot. 35 times a game sometimes. What's especially frustrating is that he doesn't see the harm in not getting his teammates involved. He thinks that it's good for the team when he does it.

I used to think that people that talked like me were fair weather fans. Bandwagon fans that complained when the going got tough, and cheered when they suddenly turned good.

But I don't feel like a fair weather fan, because I've been through the bad times. The truth is it's not really that bad.

Trust me, I was a California Angels fan growing up. I don't mind losing.

What I mind is the destruction of the team concept. For me there is no pleasure in watching a player be selfish, no matter how effective he is. It's not exciting, or entertaining. To me, it's sickening. Like watching a guy masturbate. To me it's not sexy. No matter what the guy looks like.

When I watch and try to cheer Kobe's Lakers, I feel like I'm supporting selfish behavior. That really pisses me off. Cause I'm a Los Angeles Lakers fan, I like to wear my Lakers gear, and not feel embarrassed by what it represents.

That's why I believe that by criticizing the Lakers, at this point in time, I'm actually being more loyal than most so called fans.

REAL fans shouldn't support a one man team. The Showtime Lakers were not a one man Show. Neither were Jerry West's Lakers. The Lakers to me, always represented the epitome of team work.

Shaq and Kobe realized in order to win a Championship they needed to trust Horry, Fisher, and Fox. We all saw that. I just don't get why now after all the Championships Kobe doesn't realize it. He actually believes that his selfish actions are best for the team.

Why should loyal fans support that behavior?

I hate sounding like a Kobe basher. Cause I'm not, I just don't think his selfish mentality is best for the team. I keep waiting for him to mature, but it's not happening. It'll probably never happen.

Certainly Kobe Bryant doesn't deserve all the blame. Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss deserve it too. They've made horrible, idiotic moves.

But if fans keep coming to games, and buying the merchandise, they can argue that they are only giving the fans what they want.

So until the Lakers make a move to change the make up of this one man team. The only way for fans to show true loyalty ...Is not to support the team.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, it hurts me more than it's going to hurt you Jerry Buss.

But in the long'll be for the best.

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