By Dennis J. Freeman Commentary
Los Angeles Lakers fans, I’m not saying it’s time to hit the panic button…but it’s time to hit the panic button. While you’re at it, don’t take the tag off the three-peat victory parade outfit you just got fitted for.
You may need to take it back and get a refund. That’s because your precious Lakers are playing like they’re not interested in attending another citywide block party. Instead of playing with the intensity and urgency of an NBA champion, complacency and a rock star mentality have diluted the Lakers’ immediate drive.
What’s going on lately with the Lakers should be a reason of concern for the team and their fan base. Instead of fully respecting their opponents, the Lakers now approach games as if opposing teams are supposed to roll over…because they are the Lakers.
Well, that’s not going to happen. After all, this is professional basketball, where on any given day, any team can beat any team. The Lakers did lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this season, right? Case made. The league is too good now. Parity has crept up on the Lakers since they made the first of their three straight NBA Finals appearances.
Teams, like the Oklahoma City Thunder, are talented enough, mentally tough enough and hungry enough to dethrone the champs.
The one thing that generally happens in sports is that sometimes athletes, coaches and fans have a tendency to overreact to an immediate defeat or victory. To be successful in sports, you have to have a level head and not go with the flow of the current mood swings that can easily derail your overall ambition.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been a model of success for decades. They are considered to be one of the top two franchises in the NBA. They are winners of the last two league championships. And the Lakers have every bit the chance of winning the NBA title for the third time in a row.
But the Purple and Gold’s current losing streak have caused many of folks to hit the pause button on their DVD player. After winning their first 17 of 18 games after the All-Star break, the Lakers have dropped their last five games, three at home, as the regular season comes to a close.
The Lakers are now in fourth place for best overall record, behind San Antonio, Chicago and Miami. Those three teams would have home court advantage over the Lakers should they meet in the playoffs.
Why is that important? Well, had the Lakers not have home-court advantage against the Boston Celtics in last year’s NBA Finals, Game 7 and the series would have definitely belonged to the Green Machine.
For those of you looking for the Lakers to flip a switch, forget about it. There is no such thing. The turn on, turn off theory is for the birds. It just doesn’t exist. In sports as in life, you achieve by being prepared. Right now, the Lakers look unprepared, unfocused and uninterested.
However, the Lakers are the two-time defending NBA champs. With Kobe Bryant and Coach Phil Jackson at the helm, it’s hard to imagine the Lakers not getting their house in order for their postseason run.
If they don’t, the NBA is prepared to move on with Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Oklahoma’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and Miami’s LeBron James and Dwayne Wade being the faces on a new era.