To tell you the truth, I wanted to wait on this editon of “Hate Them Now.” There are 29 teams in the NBA that are harder to dislike than the evil empire in Los Angeles, so giving our readers a list of what to hate about the Lakers will be so easy that it’s hard. Obviously, I’ll miss some things, and sadly, some of the things I list will actually be endearing qualities to the scumbags who root for the team.
However, with the first round of the playoffs rapidly approaching and the Lake Show being the Thunder’s first opponent in “the Second Season,” it has to be now.
In a way, it is a perfect scenario. Any movie written about a ragtag bunch of misfits who pull together and achieve more as a whole than ever could have been expected of them always ends with a matchup against a team like the Lakers. Whether it’s the Indians finally taking down their nemesis Yankees to win a one-game playoff, or the Permian Panthers coming up short against Dallas Carter…the climax is always the same scenario. Some book called The Bible also played on the same formula when some meek sheep herder slayed a freaking giant.
For the Thunder, that giant is Kobe, and his running mates represent just as much evil as those Philistines. Their glitz, braun, and riches are cheap methods of winning meaningless championships that can be tossed in their trophy case like Scrooge McDuck flipping a nickle into his money silo. And just as David’s confidence and guile was the standard which the ancient Jews wanted their people to aspire, the Thunder’s brand of chemistry fueled basketball is what true fans of the NBA should hope takes the series.
While I hate to jinx it, I believe Oklahoma City has a fantastic opportunity to do just that. Sure, the Thunder have sort of limped into the playoffs with some less than stellar play down the stretch, but compared to the Lakers, they look like they are firing on all gears. L.A. just finished their season by losing to their crosstown rivals, and lottery slummers, by seventeen.
One poor game would be explainable, but in their final fourteen games against teams that qualified for the playoffs, the Lakers won just four times. One of those losses was to the Thunder who blew them out beginning at the opening tip. Of course, Lakers fans (who are genuinely awful people**) are loaded with excuses:
- Kobe’s finger broke.
- Andrew Bynum sat out with an Achilles injury.
- The whole team was on cruise control because they locked up the West’s best record early.
- Phil Jackson, the master plotter, is inspiring false confidence in potential opponents by hiding the team’s best schemes.
Maybe they are all right. Perhaps Kobe will wrap his hand a different way and become a demigod again. Andrew Bynum might gimp around on his sore ankle and prove to be the league MVP Lakers’ fans thought he was before the injury while calling for him to back up Lamar Odom. And they proved they could flip a switch and suddenly become instantly dominant: ten years ago with Shaq on the team, and Kobe’s odometer reading a lot fewer miles. As far as the Zen Master’s scheming…well, we’ll get to that in the reasons to hate the team.
(Note: The reasons listed are, by no means, intended to be a comprehensive list. If you think about it, at all, you can come up with plenty of your own reasons which will have been carelessly omitted by me. Also, many of these points were emailed to me by the wonderful readers of this website, truly 180 degrees from Lakers fans**, and unfortunatley I can’t cite each of them individually. If I used one of your submissions and you want credit, feel free to pat yourself on the back in the comments section.)
Kobe “Freaking” Bryant
There are villains, and then there is Kobe Bean Bryant. Not since Barry Bonds’ was using his giant roided out melon to make a mockery of Major League records has there been a person so universally loatheable. Throw out that Bryant was once accused of rape and hired the same lawyer as Jon Benet Ramsey’s parents to avoid trial. Forget that single handedly forced Shaq out of Los Angeles by screwing over the Clippers (tricking them into gutting their team for salary cap space and then re-signing with the Lakers when they promised to trade their superstar center). Don’t think about how he pouts when his team struggles, then quits while still on the floor. Even put out of your mind that he once broke Mike Bibby’s nose with his elbow, and then scowled at the bleeding player as Kobe went to the free throw line for the encounter.
All you need to do is watch him play over however many games this series lasts to know he is evil incarnate. He is going to verbally abuse the officials, his teammates, and probably fans who taunt him all the while enjoying superstar treatment and pretending he is getting screwed. Odds are he’ll also make some pretty important plays at pretty important times…which will really suck.
Also, during the playoffs, he breaks out his “Zombie from old Nintendo game” face whenever he makes a big play.
Personally, I don’t have anything in particular that bothers me about the Lakers’ back up point guard, but one reader really hates him. He says it’s mainly the ears. But he also points out that Farmar was featured in a Sports Science article about dunking. To my knowledge, the guy has never dunked in a game. It would be like them doing a dunking feature with me. This kind of gets to the point about how the Lakers live in a different universe. Their bench warmers get star treatment.
Another reader, who rooted for the Pacers in his childhood, made a good point about Ron Artest. People seem to gloss over the fact that this guy stormed into a crowd and attacked the nerdiest looking white guy he could find because someone threw ice at Artest while his eyes were closed. Now, people seem to think of him as just this quirky guy who imitates Dennis Rodman’s hairstyle choices and chooses jersey numbers to honor the King of Pop. He’s one step from being a homicidal maniac. Remember, Oklahoma City, remember.
There is a fine line between being a “Zen Master” and “Zen Douchebag.” Jackson crossed that line earlier this week in pre-emptively lobbying the officials to look the other way while he sends his goons to molest Kevin Durant. Durant, as the classy individual he is, had the perfect response, which Henry Abbott brokedown wonderfully.
Me, I’m not so classy, so I want to address why Jackson’s comments were not only intellectually dishonest but outright false. First, Jackson has been the beneficiary of “superstar calls” his entire coaching career. He has never coached a team that did not have Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, or Kobe Bryant…all players who have been given special treatment by officials.
Second, Durant earns his free throw attempts. He has zero offensive weaknesses. If defenders crowd him, he can blow by them or get open with one of his plethora of moves. If they sag on him, he just raises up over them and hits a jumpshot. So, defenders think their only chance at slowing him down is by playing physical with him, and Durant is too smart to not take advantage of that. If a defender puts his hand on him, he quickly takes a shot and forces the referees hand. The Lakers, who assign Ron Artest to guard Durant actually get away with manhandling Durant more than anyone else. Artest, whose reputation as a great defender affords him a different kind of superstar call, clutches and grabs right in front of the referees in an effort to keep Durant from ever touching the ball. When he finally does get called for molesting the Thunder star, he demonstratively complains and somehow doesn’t get T’d up.
“They wear purple–Barney the Dinosaur wears purple, and we all (over the age of 4) hate HIM!”
One reader called him “the missing link.” Also, he complains about calls just as much as Kobe.
Personally, I like “The Great Mustachio” and it saddens me that he “plays” for the team I hate most. But plenty of other people who emailed me dislike him and think he’s a perfect fit on the end of the Lakers’ bench.
Another guy actually complained about the Lakers relegating Morrison, and his mustache, to the bench…that’s more my thinking.
To my recollection, not a single person who responded to my call for reasons to hate the Lakers failed to mention Lakers fans, who were by far number one on my list. Lakers fans are the same people who root for the Yankees in baseball, the higher seed during March Madness, and the house in blackjack. They boo when Rudy getting playing time for Notre Dame and think Julia Roberts should have won the guy in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” (Mrs. Matthews may have inspired that last one.) They love the front runner because they look no further than the win column when choosing a team.
And, of course, leaving out the celebrity “fans” that attend games to raise their profile while shouting “Good shot, Colby” would be a huge mistake.
Thunder Tim’s List
Some of this has already been addressed, but this guy really did some brainstorming, so I’m publishing his manifesto unedited:
I hate their apathetic fans.
I hate that their apathetic fans show up don’t get to the game until the second quarter.
I hate that the Lakers and the USC Trojans are part of the fan base.
I hate the dim lighting in the arena so the said apathetic fans can hide in anonymity.
I hate the traffic in LA.
I hate the snobby attitudes of people in LA.
I hate how expensive everything is in LA.
I hate the smog in LA. It can be suffocating.
I hate it when the LA movie stars give their opinions on politics. What the heck do you people know about government policy, anyway?
I hate all the celebrities that go to Lakers’ games just to be cool.
I hate when Jack Nicholson getting all up in arms when things don’t go the team’s way. cry me a river, Jack.
I hate the name “Lakers” because, really, they don’t have many lakes in L.A.
I hate Sasha Vujacic’s frenetic antics.
I hate Vujacic’s greasy eastern European look. Being eastern European is no excuse.
I hate it that I can’t hate Derek Fisher. I don’t like him as a player but is an awfully admirable dad.
I hate Kobe Bryant’s smug attitude.
I hate how good Kobe is.
I hate it when people say Kobe’s better than Jordan. No frickin’ way.
I hate it that Kobe’s been surrounded by such a great supporting cast and has won so many championships.
I hate it that Kobe changed his number. What a mean thing to do the kids that saved their allowance to buy the first jersey.
I hate it that the Lakers beat the Magic. I like Dwight Howard a lot.
I hate that the Lakers got such a good deal on Pau Gasol. How as that fair?
I hate Phil Jackson. He is not anywhere near the greatest coach of all time, despite what he would lead us to believe.
I hate that Phil Jackson hates the south-midwest. Snob.
I hate all of Jackson’s zen mumbo-jumbo.
I hate how goofy Adam Morrison is.
I hated listening to Bill Walton call games. I kind of hate his kid (although I do like his 5 stick-figure tattoo on his shoulder).
I hate Robert Horry and his late game heroics.
I hated it when Magic Johnson destroyed (in my mind) the innocence of sport (though he has made quite a comeback for me because he is just so darn likeable).
I hated it when Ron Artest went into the stands in that awful game. What an awful black-eye on this game.
I (love to) hate how crazy Ron Artest is. What a nut job.
I hate the Lakers for coming back on Pippen and the Blazers in game 7 of the 2000 playoffs.
I hate how many titles the Lakers have.
I hate the Lakers for never folding.
I hate how good they were with Shaq.
** – After the series is over, we can go back to being friends, Laker fans.