All Of The Sudden?

Sometimes the wheels come off your life all at once and it seems like something awful came out of nowhere to ruin things for you.

While it can happen, life very rarely happens that way. Most often we ignore warning signs, hoping that problems will “just go away”.

Over time we lose a slow war of attrition with age and relationship. While we are tempted to focus on the easier, more superficial concerns of our life the larger, more pressing and dangerous issues are building towards a tipping point.

Many people wait until they are incapacitated before they see a doctor. While they have sneaking suspicions that something isn’t right, they don’t act on their concerns for fear that something really awful may be wrong with them. By the time they get to the place where they are willing to act, it’s usually way too late in the game…

You knew I was talking about the Lakers all along right?

Last week I posted about what Blazer fans could do to step up their game. It was mostly about objectivity. The objective reader tolerated it, those who lacked objectivity it hated it.

Having objectivity is hard to achieve when you are a fan of a certain team. This is because you don’t learn objectivity while your team is good, you learn it during the lean years.

Objectivity is built during the years immediately following your teams most successful period. This is when you learn just how quickly stars age and teams lose their ability to “hear” a coach… while cohesion crumbles.

This is when most fans quit following their team. They stop paying attention for about 7 years. They wait until the team is rebuilt and then they return in droves once the winning begins… Because they want to enjoy, not learn from, the Nick Van Excel Lakers, the “jailBlazers”, or this year’s Cavaliers.

Most often people don’t learn objectivity for two reasons: It’s difficult, and they don’t really want it. Part of the problem of having objectivity is that it ruins your ability to blindly enjoy your success in the moment.

Objectivity means that you don’t trust your team in the playoffs even though they have one of the best regular season records. It means that you watch your star players treat their teammates and fans poorly, with an understanding that it’s going to have consequences down the road.

These hints kill a playoff buzz faster than poor shooting or Steve Blake’s chicken pox.

In these moments the average fan of ANY team, the populist, starts complaining about reffing and “star treatment”. They make accusations about conspiracy theories and gambling implications, but this is fiddling with the easy superficialities.

The hard truth is that when the wheels come off, and they do for all but one team each year, the team wasn’t good enough. The signs were there all year and you didn’t have, or want, the objectivity to have seen it coming.

I became a Laker fan during the Pat Riley era, but I stayed a fan through the Del Harris and Mike Dunleavy eras. This is how I had the objectivity to know that:

-When they no longer needed each other for rings, Kobe & Pau would end up just like Kobe & Shaq.

-If you can’t defend a point guard, you can’t play defense.

-If Dennis Rodman’s crazy eventually wore everybody around him down, so would Ron’s.

-If you still need a coach to “motivate” you, you aren’t really a professional.

-Length only helps you when you want to rebound and play defense… As opposed to shoot.

-A sixth man should be a role player, not someone too distracted to be a starter.

-You can’t “trust” a jerk to play nice… Ever.

Even if there’s some kind of *Miracle, the **rebuilding has to begin this offseason because teams like Oklahoma City and Portland already have their young pieces in place.

With a lockout looming, the next few years will not be kind to the Lake show. The question for the fans is whether or not anyone wants to learn anything, before the wheels “suddenly” come off the next time.

Don’t let this post only be about basketball. What is it that you are turning a blind eye to because you are “a fan”? Get help before the sudden disaster.

*”miracle” means not getting swept.
**rebuilding means “buying a kid from Orlando”… again.

7 Responses to “All Of The Sudden?”

  1. Jesse May 7, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Don’t worry have a down year next year shed salary and then bring in Dwight.

    • Jon May 7, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      Don’t be surprised to see Bynum and a host of others get traded for him (and am undisclosed sum) before the lockout… Because Orlando won’t want to lose him for nothing.

  2. Brian May 9, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Loved this post for its non-basketball implications. So true that things don’t normally just blow up over night.

  3. Milo Curtis May 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Taking up the challenge to use the metaphor…

    I think I’ve had this perspective of churches/movements. That is, I’ve become a “fan” of a particular season. I’ve purchased the DVD series, read the leadership books, listened to the podcasts, and joined the overall hype of elevating a style/personality.

    But then the “wheels come off.” Sometimes they come off because the season is over (ie, “it’s so ‘3 years ago'”). Other times it’s because of a moral failure by a key figure. The temptation is to become a “fan” of the next thing. And with dutiful eyes and ears I listen, read, and search for the next winning team so that I can appear “relevant” and “forward thinking.”

    What drives it? I want to be associated with something that is succeeding, even if it’s living vicariously through the players while I’m on the sidelines.

    To stretch the metaphor…I think this where the invitation of Jesus comes in. He beacons me to move from spectator to player. He calls me into the game. But the moment I step onto the field I realize I define better as “winning.” When He defines better as self-sacrifice and surrender.


    • Jon May 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

      So true Milo. I find myself reading the Gospels and identifying with the Pharisees (embracing popularity) more than I want to.

  4. Jordan May 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Nicely written Jon.

    I’d like to add though that Rodman embraced his crazy… but Ron is just beyond crazy. I’m pretty sure if a 6 ft 7, 260lb guy punched me in the face on the street… he’d probably go to jail. Can I start chanting “jailLakers” yet? (=

    • Jon May 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      Trading Trevor Ariza for Artest two years ago was a big cog in this whole humiliating failure of a season… Jackson couldn’t even wait for it to be over (thus my point that because they have more wins doesn’t make them any better than the Blazers)

      Ironically the trade wasn’t about Artest being better than Ariza, it was about keeping Ron Ron from punching Kobe in the face during a 7 game series with the Rockets…

      Although it would be more apt to call them the “failLakers”, feel free to call them the “jailLakers”… you could have started when they picked up Isaiah Rider during their first three Championships.

      The only thing more embarrassing than this season’s finish is when the same thing happened against the Pistons in the 2004 Finals.

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