By Myles Brown
*This was probably all a dream, I was pretty drunk last night…but thanks to the big homey Chris Wallace the best part still may come true.
Life was good.
I opened the curtains and revealed a stream of headlights streaking through the night below. The funeral procession we’d expected was replaced by a victory parade on the 405, countless vehicles ceremoniously adorned with tiny purple and gold flags flapping in the wind as their precious cargo rushed to deliver the good news.
I turned and smiled. Her eyes narrowed as she tried to ignore me.
I laughed, handed her the cigarettes and she rolled over as I flopped onto the bed.
The cherry brightened as her chest rose and as it sunk blue smoke escaped out the balcony door. We laid on our backs, I watched her as she watched me. Twin volcanoes, erupting with…..
Her raspy voice broke the silence. “You know I’m still right.”
“No” I said. “I thought you were right. This changes things.”
“How? They lost the first two games against New Orleans too. A series doesn’t start until the road team wins and all this does is show them that they can win in L.A. Duncan f-cking destroyed you tonight.”
“That’s one way of looking at it.”
I’d always found her anti-Hollywood grumbling endearing, especially since she’d developed such a cerebral approach to her craft. It spoke well of her character. But when her stubbornness hardened into an outright refusal to attend anything other than Clipper games out of contempt for “Those self involved douchebags who just go to be worshiped and see themselves on TV.” I initially balked, only to succumb to her desire to stay in and watch the games. But letting that same bias convince me that the Lakers would eventually succumb to San Antonio’s experience was a mistake I was no longer going to make. And she knew this as I stared at her.
Exasperated, she let loose a forceful burst of smoke. She also knew I was going to continue.
“Another way to look at it is that no one else did. That staying at home on Ginobli and Parker cut down the driving lanes and forced them into contested jumpers. Duncan’s gonna continue to get his, but doubling him is what makes everyone else dangerous by unbalancing the defense and exploiting poor rotation. San Antonio is a disciplined team and count on things like that. It’s also tough for an offense as jumper happy as the Lakers to maintain discipline when San Antonio is so tight with their transition and half court defense. What might not be a good shot sometimes looks like one and I didn’t trust the younger and more inexperienced Lakers to know the difference. I thought it would take a whole series for them to learn these things, not 45 minutes. This will be a real boost of confidence for them and a great experience to draw from.”
“They didn’t learn a thing!” she exclaimed. “Do you honestly think that the Spurs will miss that many open shots again? That Finley and Udoka will take those rushed jumpers down the stretch again? Not if they want to play they won’t. Pop doesn’t play that sh-t. They were tired, next game they’ll take their time, make the extra pass and get better looks. Parker killed in the first half, do you think the defense just decided to turn it up a notch in the second or did he just stop getting the ball in a position to attack like had before? Don’t delude yourself into thinking the Lakers are a consistent defensive team now, the Spurs bailed them out with turnovers, bad shots and missed free throws. Ginobli’s gonna put it together soon and Kobe’s schizophrenia with the ball is gonna cost them eventually. It’s not cool.”
“You sound like Vescey” I quipped as I swung my legs over the bed. I began to tie my shoes. As usual, this was not going to end well. “Kobe knows that he’s not going to the line in this series so he’s not going to waste possessions. San Antonio is too good for that, they’ll force him into the middle and crowd his drives, make him take too many jumpers and disrupt the teams rhythm, if he does nothing but attack. He also knows that it’s up to him to make things easier for Gasol who would struggle against Duncan without help. Which is why he fed Pau early and often, even through missed layups and unrecognized mismatches. Coming out and attacking right away would make things easier for the defense so he waited, and when the time came he pounced. Left, right, inside, outside, baseline and through the middle. As the defense adjusted he passed again making them pay with his footwork and recognition. It was an impressive game of cat and mouse. But ‘it’s not cool’? To who, you? What does that even mean? That you approve of it? Who gave you that authority? Cool is not a fucking democracy, it’s a dictatorship. He tried something that was either going to work or not. It did and it shows just how complete a player he is. He’ll define himself through his control of this series. You just say dumb sh-t like that to be contrary and I’m not going to let you. You’re killing my high.”
I found myself at the door gripping the handle and paused. She knew how to push my buttons. I felt her eyes on the back of my head. Maybe she was right. Maybe they were tired. There’d certainly be a game where San An put it together for the full 48. Could the Lakers withstand it? Maybe there’d be a night when Kobe nor his supporting cast could make a shot. Could they win with defense? Sasha can’t be expected to be the Ginobli Stopper for much longer. What happens then? Can Kobe successfully walk this tightrope for four W’s? Maybe I should look at them just as I looked at her these days, a good time that would inevitably end in disappointment.
No. I wouldn’t let her get the best of me. “Lakers in 7” I said in the open doorway. I refused to turn around.
“You’re living a lie. They’re going to disappoint him and he’s going to disappoint you.” She was reading my mind now. I had to go.
“Your album sucked” I grumbled as the door shut behind me. It was petty, but again, she knew how to push my buttons.
She was going to marry that fool, there was nothing I could-or cared-to do about that. I clung to more tangible things, like victories, and all I needed was three more. I couldn’t let her ruin that too.
A single vibration tickled my hip in the elevator. She’d texted me. “Friday?”