“Hello everyone. My name is (insert name here).”
“And I am a Lakers fan.”
It isn’t easy to deal with loss. The human psyche is ill-equipped to cope with it. There are clinics, counseling, books you can read. It occurs so frequently that the stages are named and catalogued.
Yes, you can check a spreadsheet tomorrow and see how traumatized you are.
Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers handed their fans a historic loss, a loss the level of which had never existed before. A record-setting loss. They were winning by more, were ahead further than any team that had lost before. This was uncharted loss territory.
This time, there were no refs to blame. There was no mass conspiracy or mob connections, no imbalanced ratios of fouls or free-throws or traveling violations. They did not shrink the rims at halftime (though it may have felt that way). And they didn’t come through with a miracle last-second heave that saved the day.
The Lakers just lost. Take a deep breath and say it again. The Lakers just lost, in the same way that the Hindenburg doesn’t fly around much anymore.
And the Laker fans are left with the burning aftermath.
* * *
This was more than just a pivotal game. To gain a better perspective of things, let’s call this an experiment in hyper-tension. The difference between a 2-2 series and a 3-1 series is massive. It’s being given a semi in the Indy 500, a drink umbrella in a thunderstorm, or fifteen shots before a date.
Yes, it’s a big difference.
The championship depended completely upon those 48 minutes. Sorry to break it to you, Laker fans. Had the Lakers won, they would gain the momentum, post a prideful victory in Game 5 and roll into Boston with confidence and unity, only needing to take one game of two. The Celtics would be crushed, give up on LA, and scurry back home to regroup. Now, we are looking at a Celtics team that has ego at near-capacity levels and the knowledge that, no matter how far down they are, no matter how poorly they play, they can still manage a victory in the most dire of situations.
Again, yes. It really is quite a big difference.
One cannot point fingers at a certain Laker player or possession and state “that’s where they lost the game”. There was no singular moment when the ball slipped out, a shot rimmed, or a pass went awry. The Celtics deserved every point of that 31-15 third quarter. They played smarter, harder, just better. They sagged their defense, knowing the game would slow and Kobe would try to shoulder the load. Their shots fell, on account of huge step-up performances from James Posey and Eddie House. They got offensive boards, dove for loose balls, and sank their free-throws. And that’s before even mentioning the Big 3, each of whom cemented their legacy with this one game.
Think about it. This was the clutch. KG held his game. Paul Pierce was larger than life, with the MVP guarding him. And Ray Allen? He went from being dogged on by the whole of Boston media to being this writer’s Finals MVP.
All in 48 minutes.
* * *
Yes, with this Game 4, the Lakers lost the championship. They lost to the team with the most rabid, foul-mouthed, cocky fans, who will brag about this year and this single victory for ages to come. They will sit their rabid, foul-mouthed, cocky children on their knees, and tell the epic story of how the hated Lakers rightly fell to the Glorious Underdog Celtics of 2008.
And you know what? They’ve earned it.
Yes, the Celtic fans use tactics one may not agree with. But these folks have suffered a Basketball Hell much worse than any experienced in LA. One needs only say “Len Bias” and “23 years, no trophy”. So, let them have their moment. Besides, it’s good to see KG finally get out from under that horrible Flip Saunders-led cloud in Minnesota. And Pierce is an LA guy, so how upset can you really get at him selling fouls and limping?
Enough of that. The Lakers have nothing but a clear future ahead of them. With one of the strongest lineups in the league, all of whom is under 30, a peaking superstar, and a few key pieces returning from injury, there’s no telling how many more Finals the Laker fans may experience. Besides, a rivalry isn’t a rivalry after one year. These things must be earned.
We are all done with denial. The loss happened, and that’s okay. We got out our anger, our bargaining, and (hopefully) our depression. This is acceptance, the final stage in dealing with our loss.
Hello, everyone. My name is Kyle.
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