It Is Good To Be A Hater
And there’s much to hate in Los Angeles.
by Allen Powell II
“I hope all the bad things in life happen to you and nobody else but you.”
“Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” —Dave Chappelle
The hate bubbles around inside me like particularly raucous flatulence; it’s the type of hate that can remain dormant for hours and then suddenly strain toward the surface eager to break free and darken moods. Oh, I hate them, yes, I hate them. I hate the Los Angeles Lakers so much right now.
It is a hate bred into me from youth. I don’t hate the Lakers because I support the Celtics or Spurs. I don’t hate because of some ridiculous belief that the Lakers have been given an unfair advantage by David Stern in his quest to rig every outcome in the NBA. No, my hatred is more pure than that, more substantive. Quite simply, my father hated, and thus I had no choice.
Dad’s hate was unequivocal—the Lakers were pansies, they were pretty boys and we didn’t cheer for them in our house. For example, I can distinctly remember purchasing birthday sneakers for my father when the Magic Johnson-themed Converse Weapons were hot in the streets. My father loved Converse; his love was a holdover from growing up poor at a time when having a new pair of Chuck Taylors on the first day of school was better than having steak.
As I entered department store, my eyes were drawn to the gleaming display racks overflowing with purple and gold footwear. Apparently, even thousands of miles away from the Forum everyone wanted a little piece of Magic. I scanned those sneakers and made an instant decision, a decision I would have to defend to my mother, my brother and the pushy salesman. I wasn’t certain what color shoes my father would like, but I knew they wouldn’t be purple and gold. Later, when I related the tale to my father his response was immediate and firm, “Good job, son.”
To be clear, like many children reared well, I have strayed from the proper path. Earvin’s wizardry with the ball and his effervescent personality could sway the most resolute adults, let alone a mere child. I am not proud to admit that there have been times when I cheered for the Lakers, but I still admit it. I’ve rooted for Magic and Cap along with Kobe and Shaq because I loathed their foes just that much. But it was an uneasy alliance, one born of necessity not appreciation. Those alliances were sundered quickly, and never spoken of out loud.
The flame of my hate flickered and guttered over the years, but it was never extinguished. It flared when the Lakers vanquished my personal anti-hero in 2001, and again when they overcame a special band of brothers in 2010. In every era, the Lakers gave me a reason to despise them, and I willingly obliged.
But recent failures have made it less fun to hate the Team of Sunshine. A team that exits the Playoffs so early and so easily is not truly worthy of fervent hate, just mild ridicule. I grew comfortable in my hate, complacent to a certain degree. There were times I even wondered if the hatred was still needed.
Now it seems I am being punished for the transgression of even considering leaving the one true path. How else can I explain the inexplicable? Is there another way to rationalize this unforeseen and unholy resurgence in Lakerland? It defies logic and reason. How can a team surrender so little and gain so much? How can they add such quality pieces just one summer removed from team owners vehemently complaining about competitive balance? But, as I survey the irrevocably altered NBA landscape in the aftermath of the Dwight Howard trade, I am mainly asking the only question that really matters: “How did they manage to keep Pau Gasol?”
There are no easy answers to that question, but there is an easy hate. After an offseason of savvy moves and profligate spending, the Lakers are primed for hatred. You may oppose Kobe winning any more rings, or despise Dwight’s ham-handed maneuvering or just think the NBA is becoming too unbalanced. Whatever your reasons, there is much to hate in Los Angeles. Two years ago many NBA fans could not imagine a team more deserving of hate than the Miami Heat, but now the Lakers easily fit the bill.
Honestly, I don’t think the Lakers and their fans mind the hatred. If they had to choose between being loathed and pitied, well, the choice is obvious isn’t it? And so I will oblige them. I will muster one last gasp of white-hot hate. It will be the type of hate that becomes harder to generate as you mature in mind and spirit. I will embrace that hate. I will wallow in that hate.
That’s what my Dad would want me to do.