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.