As the Lakers put their heads down as they walked off the court in defeat, I put down the bottle of Jack Daniels for the final time this season.
For consecutive years the Phoenix Suns handed the Lakers their plane tickets to Cancun, with a 121-110 victory.
As part of me rejoiced because I’ll soon have a recovered liver and no longer sore eyes from watching this team, I couldn’t escape the pit in my stomach of knowing this was the final chapter for this group.
Long before injuries sent the Lakers spiraling — first out of title contention, and then the playoff picture entirely, there were cracks as wide as Niagara Falls in the core foundation.
The Lakers waved their white flag somewhere back in January. And that, above all was the most disheartening part to a historically disappointing season. The roster construction was awful, and the injuries piled up but the lack of heart and interest in winning games and coming together was the dagger in any hope of a successful season.
You can blame Frank Vogel, Jeannie Buss, the Rambis’ influence or Rob Pelinka. And each of those figure heads take a substantial piece of the blame pie, but it also boils down to the players on the court too.
Just across the hall the Los Angeles Clippers lost both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for majority of the season, yet their team construct has allowed them a playoff appearance.
For parts of this season the Lakers featured 4 Hall of fame players on the floor, and the product often resembled a summer league game filled with second round picks.
Looking ahead there is so much changed needed, but with tight margins to actually induce change. I’ll have a wishlist off-season article out soon, but a rundown of the flaws is a lengthy one.
- Roster construct
- Front office
My next Lakers article will be a breakdown of each and how I would address them to get the franchise back on a winning track.
But for now I want to highlight the most hated Lakers team I have ever watched.
Nothing about this season was enjoyable. Westbrook made it impossible to watch a game sober. The supporting cast couldn’t defend or make layups. I can’t even remember an Anthony Davis highlight. And LeBron, who might win the scoring title at age 37 while setting records, didn’t bring me any joy because what’s it mean in a losing effort?
I used to stay up til 1 AM 4 times a week watching the likes of Kendall Marshall, Jody Meeks, and Robert Sacre. They sucked, but I expected the L’s. But they at least played with heart. That team actually appeared to like one another. And occasionally they would shock you by defeating a top team on a random Tuesday night.
This incarnation of Lakers basketball made me miserable every step of the way. From blowing 20 point leads to OKC, or getting blown out by top seeds, all I walk away from this season with is pain and hatred.
From the highest of highs of winning the most emotional chip in 2020, to the bottomless pit of 2022, the Lakers have taken us all on a rollercoaster of emotions like no other.
Cheers to not having to watch this team ever again.
-Every Lakers fan.