Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Lakers' Season Ended Tonight, In Perhaps The Nicest Way it Could

In case you missed it...

With 3:06 left in the fourth in what would eventually be a stirring home overtime win against the very game and playoff-bound Warriors, Kobe Bryant blew out his Achilles, more or less ending his season. It happened in a game where Bryant played every minute, in a season where the Laker bench and defense was so bad that taking him off the floor was tantamount to waving a white flag, and while the Lakers are still holding the 8th seed, there's absolutely no chance of this collection of slugs doing a damn thing against a good team without him.

Bryant got banged up twice before the Achilles problem, and was carrying the team before getting carted off. Laker coach Mike D'Antoni, of course, has a history of burning out his talent (see Stoudamire, Amare) by not developing a bench, but on this one, I think he actually did the Lakers a solid.

You see, there's going to be a very large day of reckoning for this franchise in the off-season, and their only way out of a prolonged stint in the lottery (and in a post David Stern world, they might even be allowed to reside there) is to rehabilitate Dwight Howard into a top 20 player. That's not going to be Bryant, at his age and miles, no matter how many times he goes to Germany for freaky PEDs -- err, advance medical treatment. They also have to wean themselves away from the offense-only contributions of Steve Nash and Gasol, accept that the Metta World Peace era is at end, and find something on the bench with more long-term ability for growth than Antawn Jamison and Chris Duhon. (Seriously, Chris Duhon is still in the NBA. On the Lakers. I know, amazing, right?)

With Bryant down, Laker Fan can tell themselves that if not for those Darned Injuries (never mind that old teams with no benches are going to get hurt), they were going to go deep. Bryant can take his time to have a big dramatic retirement ceremony, then rehab like a demon in secret and come back in a year for his total emulation of the Michael Jordan career path, though hopefully with a better choice than Washington for the coda. (And yes, he's coming back from the injury. He's got career scoring marks to take down, plus a desire to cherry pick another ring or two. Maybe by taking Ray Allen's chair in Miami, just to make sure that no one outside of Miami roots for that dynasty?)

This was always going to happen, whether by first-round exit off a lopsided loss or by losing the seed to Utah (and hey, that could still happen, too). Better for it to happen with a heroic star tragedy, with D'Antoni assuming the Mike Shanahan role of Coach Who Just Couldn't Say No To His Competitive Star, than the low comedy of getting punked by the teams that were always better than the rent-a-team...

1 comment:

snd_dsgnr said...

Last night's game was exactly the sort of contest that makes me think that the NBA is quasi-rigged. 50 free throw attempts in a game that ended in regulation, with the Lakers shooting 1 fewer three pointer, and only 2 of which came from a clock stopping foul? How is that even possible?

The play towards the end of the game where Steph Curry ran through a Dwight Howard moving screen and somehow Steve Blake ended up shooting free throws was especially egregious.

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