Unwelcome Holiday Gift
The Lakers got some new clothes this Christmas.
by Myles Brown / @Mdotbrown
When I was 14 there was nothing I wanted for Christmas more than a Super Nintendo. Being the spoiled brat of a first world country that I was, I’d grown tired of both my Sega Genesis and Turbo Graphx 16 and sought greener pastures. Particularly those of Super Mario World.
So when I not only got an SNES, but found it on Christmas Eve in the back of the bathroom closet, I squealed with delight knowing only a thin layer of cardboard stood between myself and hours of uninterrupted joy. I tore that sucker to shreds and installed it faster than Mr.Nintendo himself.
I was absolutely entranced by vivid colors, reincarnations of classic characters and introductions to new friends. Rapidly working my thumbs in search of the unseen, I played all night with my new puppy beside me as father carved fresh ostrich slices on the couch behind us…..
It was just a dream. I didn’t get a Super Nintendo that Christmas. I got what every ungrateful first world schmuck didn’t want: Clothes.
The Lakers got some new clothes this Christmas too. Well, shoes actually. So did their fans. In the latest instance of the rich getting richer, each courtside seat was presented with a certificate for a free pair of Kobe VI’s that could be redeemed in the stadium. Reportedly, the excruciatingly bright green colorway represented our old friend The Grinch. For as everyone knows, the greatest gift of Christmas is to deny others their dreams.
So there they were, an army of Grinches supported by their minions, ready to beat the Heat. Unfortunately, the only thing L.A. beat that day was traffic. Looking at them in action, the colors were indicative of something far different. The Lakers appeared entrenched in some primordial ooze and those shiny new shoes made every late rotation and failed box out quite easy to see.
The Heat on the other hand, got exactly what they wanted for Christmas: Respect. Both teams were peppered with skepticism for failing to conquer the scant few contenders they’ve seen, but on this day Miami showed the world their recent winning streak is far from fool’s gold. While their crisp and intuitive ball movement was a relatively new development, this was another game won with their hallmark of inescapable, suffocating defense.
Even blown assignments were nothing more than a minor inconvenience as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade preyed on passing lanes and hapless ball handlers. Missed dunks weren’t an embarrassment, but motivation to stifle the opposition even further. James and Wade are certainly a sight to see in the open court, but that’s fodder for casual fans and just icing on the cake for purists. The real treat is watching their pick-n-roll and help defense. Any pick involving Bron’s assignment is essentially worthless. He’s quick enough to recover, can guard practically any position on the floor and has the luxury of another First Team defender waiting in the wings. The Lakers were continually flustered into poor passes and struggled to make even the easiest of baskets at times. This was in no small part due to the Heat repeatedly disrupting their rhythm.
But spare us the thoughts of how “it’s hard to be mean on Christmas” Kobe, and let’s all remember the more incontestable fact: The Lakers were mired in a considerable funk long before any wish lists were scribbled down. They’re now 2-4 against teams over .500 and have suffered consecutive blowouts in Staples Center. Of course this can be easily written off as the early season boredom of a three time Conference Champion, but could this be different? Is something slipping away from them?
Only time will tell. Sometimes disappointment is what makes victory so sweet.
After months of grumbling, I became more attentive to my chores and schoolwork and finally got a Super Nintendo that summer. Perhaps the Lakers will learn to do the same.