Shaq’s Impact Far Outweighs His Stature

There is something that all Lakers fans and really anyone in general should take into account. Bronze lasts forever, whereas beef eventually gets infested with swarms of bacteria and maggots and thus fades away.

This lesson officially came into play yesterday at the unveiling of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling at Staples Center. It was a statue that perfectly captured the very essence of Kazaam in his playing days. It depicts that on-and-off switch Kobe was confidently talking about in his tribute to his former teammate. It typifies Shaq’s total dominance and strength as overused as those terms are. And now he is officially intertwined with the legends of legends whether Magic is thought about, Kareem, Chick, and so forth. He is now linked with part of the magical landscape of Hollywood and all it means.

The fact, though, that Kobe had said that suggests that in spite of past problems between the two, there remains this respect for one another. There is this sense of admiration because without each other, the duo would not have been able to accomplish what they accomplished in their respective careers. There is no doubt about that because as great as they were individually (who on earth can argue that?), they both needed each other. Their personalities were essentially the perfect combination, Kobe’s being one filled with this no nonsense cloud hovering around him. Shaq was different off the court and was a bit more lighthearted.

Despite how lovable Shaq is and how tremendous his run in the City of Angels was, his statue was not necessarily guaranteed after the way things ended with the purple-and-gold. Yes, he played a major, major role in the team’s three peat run, earning Finals MVP in all of those memorable campaigns. Be that as it may, the remarkably highly publicized drama between him and Kobe got to be too much at that point. The drama was bad and it became more and more noticeable. It severely affected the chemistry of the group. It is, in large part, what spurred the Big Diesel to leave after Los Angeles lost to Detroit in the 2004 Finals.

Thankfully, this all started to fix itself a few years ago, though. The team would eventually take the first step insofar as retiring #34 in the rafters. It is a goal Shaquille had established since his early days with them going back to the 1990s. He craved to fit in with the Kareems and Wilts of the world and one day hopefully be named amongst the greatest centers to ever play the game. Suffice to say, O’Neal answered the call of duty. To say he answered it is an understatement. It is something most deserved given that 13-time champion Phil Jackson challenged the man, too, to answer that call.

It was an area Jackson brushed on in his speech prior to the unveiling. Jackson wanted the younger Shaq to take basketball seriously in lieu of spending so much focus on making commercials, being in children’s movies, and the like. Phil urged Shaq to be something greater in an effort to bring the Lakers back to the so-called promised land. Phil virtually wanted Showtime, version 2 to arise. He understood it nearly as well as anyone by virtue of the tenure he had in the Windy City. And for that to be possible, the Big Fella needed to get in better shape and build up his stamina to be a factor in the closing minutes of games. Let’s just once again say that Phil’s challenge was taken to heart and that the rest is history. Just look up high in the rafters at Staples Center. The tangible proof is there. So stop being so jealous Clippers fans by covering up all of that with selfies of your players. Just because you guys do not have that proof yet does not mean you can just hide and be scared and whatnot.

This history, though, perhaps led to one of the more unexpected moments during yesterday’s festivities. The Black Mamba himself, as tough-minded and not so soft as he is, got a little softer yesterday by simply showing up. Kobe has been spending his retirement diligently working for the most part and by putting a lot of his cheddar in investments. But the two hugged it out surprisingly enough and it was hard not to smile remembering what once was back in the day. Those were the days and thinking of just how crowded Figueroa would be summer after summer started to be something that became so commonplace to where it became hard to not take it all for granted. It displays the respect, if anything, and it was beautiful to see because the two were as good as any when it came to uniting and winning.

As a matter of fact, this moment led to another Lakers’ legend commenting on the sequence. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at one interval during his own tribute to Shaq said that the probability of Kobe coming was as small as O’Neal’s odds were of successfully nailing a free throw. Which is astronomically funny to get a load of, indeed, because we all know that Shaw’s biggest on the floor weakness was just that. We also grasp through this perhaps Kobe’s biggest drawback, which was often avoiding the gooey stuff in his career. He mind was so attached to basketball and that was more or less it. Concentrating on that craft and being in the gym all the time was his life. Relationships were not always important as a result. However, this step (as minuscule as it might seem right off the bat) exemplifies that Kobe and Shaq have both matured as men.

Other legends were on hand for the Big Aristotle’s big day, too. Jerry West, the former Lakers’ GM and the NBA logo (or whatever else you wish to call the former marksman) had a lot of nice things to say about the former force in the paint. Jerry spoke about how much he enjoyed Shaq when he was in LA. It extended beyond the work he performed from a basketball perspective. Mr. Clutch touched on number 34’s kind and giving spirit and how much he meant and still means to many souls in the city. He truly made it a better place to be and that morsel of kindness on West’s front was not just designed to just make Shaq have a good feeling sort of day. You could just see how genuine West was being for it frankly sounded like he was oftentimes on the verge of tears. The impact therefore surely branches outside of the realm of sports. West even went as far as to say that Shaq was akin to son of his. That is some kind of compliment to receive.

Jeanie Buss shed light on this aspect in her speech to Shaq. Let alone her gratefulness to those who constructed the larger than life bust of O’Neal and to O’Neal himself for celebrating the title parades in such exuberant, unexplainable fashion, there was something more to the man that tugged on the woman’s heartstrings. It was once again that generosity whether it was a matter of Shaq dressing up as Santa during the holidays or simply taking care of the poorer regions of the youngsters in the most impoverished areas of the city. It is something she greatly valued. At the same time, she also was sure to give the 7 foot 1 beast credit for what he did on the playing confines, but, more importantly, for being a Laker. She said that he will everlastingly be part of this franchise. That would never be in question.

It is difficult to not conjure up ruminations on the sports aspect and Bryant spoke about it the most amongst those present at the ceremony. He called Shaq the most dominant player he ever had the privilege of playing with and that says something provided how talented Kobe himself was (wink, wink). Shaq proved it, though, and it even inclined Kobe to tell Shaq’s kids in a more lighthearted anecdote that Shaq was a “bad” man on the court. Funny, but true. It comes to show that even a guy like Kobe can crack open a less serious side once in a blue moon.

Shaq later commented on it and appreciated it very much. He admitted that he and Kobe had their moments, but will still go down as arguably the greatest one-two punch ever assembled notwithstanding the controversy that will forever encapsulate the pair. They won three out of four possible titles and few can say that. For example, duos like Stockton and Malone never managed to win at all in the nineties despite the opportunities they had (although we all know quite well that MJ was something else to behold in that era of the NBA).

As Shaq similarly exhibited at the end of his own speech, it is more than safe to say that we all dig it, Big Fella. We dig it big time. Congratulations. Through it all, there were the share of rivalries and not so great moments, but it all panned out in the end. We are thankful for you, Shaq, and could honestly not be more proud!

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It’s Time For D’Angelo Russell To Elevate His Game

On the grounds that Magic Johnson is the new President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers, there is likely one player in particular he will be keeping a sharp eye on in the next collection of weeks: D’Angelo Russell. This is so given that Magic used to be a PG himself back in the day, and is arguably the best of all-time at said position. His 11.2 assists per game average and 5 NBA titles say enough.

The purple-and-gold are not having the season many wished for, and it is germane to say that part of the blame needs to be resting on Russell’s shoulders. After all, this is the guy who at one interval last year confidently proclaimed “you ain’t seen nothing yet” when he set a career high in the points category. Nevertheless, he has likewise been getting a lot of notice for the “ice in the veins” display he unveils now and again.

While it not fair to place all of this on the 21-year-old, part of it again is fair. Coming into the campaign, he seemed poised to be a leader, if not the leader, for the squad. Alas, this has not been all too true. He has been inconsistent throughout the vast majority of the season, and while the youth factor is logical, that card cannot always be used. Yes, the injury he sustained earlier in the year also is attributable to this to some degree. However, more was expected out of D’Angelo. The progression is just not good enough. Plain and simple. He needs to be backing up the talk, too, if he has the courage to put forward the previously echoed words.

He is only averaging around a single point and assist above his rookie numbers, and while that does technically exemplify a dollop of improvement, it is diminutive. 4.7 assists per game for a point guard most especially is not going to cut it. It is plausible to argue that Russell is not the most traditional point guard, yet there is a certain standard when it comes to being the quarterback on a team. Russell tends to still get trigger happy on occasion from 3-point range, and even when he chooses to pass the rock, he can get too fancy in lieu of making the simpler, easier decision.

His turnovers per game tally is reflective of that aforementioned argument. As a matter of fact, the tally is actually slightly worse than it was last year. Granted turnover rates tend to be higher for those with the ball in their hands a lot (with Russell being no exception to that), making similar goofs over and over get to be puzzling after a while. It is kind of disgusting.

It is understandable that Russell has to play against good point guards quite a bit whether it is Westbrook, CP3, Lillard, Curry, Thomas or whoever. If he keeps getting outplayed, though, it will become all the more challenging to take him seriously. It will become easier to conjure up the thought “so, how did he get selected #2 in the draft a couple years back?” Some may think this is being too harsh, whilst it is simply a matter of being frank and upfront. The league is loaded with great point guards, and there needs to be stronger production from the Lakers’ second year asset.

One area to key in on, too, is that number 1 is averaging below 30 minutes as was the case last year as well. It is understandable that Luke Walton wants there to be a certain increment of balance. Notwithstanding the likelihood of that presumption, maybe this is partially why D’Angelo has not reached the upper tier of his potential yet? It is a potentially accurate theory, but, nonetheless, the point guard needs to be making better use of his minutes. It is perhaps why Walton has kept him away from exceeding the 30 minute plateau.

His shooting percentage is one spot that is disappointing to behold. He is actually managing to shoot below 40% overall, which is flat out unacceptable for an individual who desires to be the guy in Hollywood. For a guy like small forward Brandon Ingram, some slack should be given because of the fact that he is a rookie still figuring out how to adjust to the elevated tempo of the NBA. With regard to D’Angelo, however, the continuous subpar marks are not too wonderful to peruse day in and day out.

While bad shooting nights can happen to anyone without a doubt, they are happening too often. What is sad, too, is that whenever Russell is not necessarily performing well in this neck of the woods, he tends to get lazy/sloppy on the defensive end of the floor. He seems to let it get to his head way too much. This is concerning since this is a level where mental weakness is just not permissible. At the bare minimum, this is a department where discernible effort always needs to exist, even if, say, he’s 1 for 10 from the floor on a given evening. Defensive intensity is absolutely imperative, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.

With all of this out there, it is accordingly critical that D’Angelo makes some sort of lasting impression from now until the remainder of the season. He needs to prove that he belongs and is worthy of being selected second in the draft in 2015. He does have a lot of useful tools in his arsenal, yet it boils down to how he decides to utilize them. Time will tell, and hopefully he answers the call. Otherwise, it is reasonable to develop the presupposition that his future may not be nearly as secure as he would prefer.

Magic: How Much Can He Really Help?

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Any Lakers fan that is above the age of an average toddler understands in some capacity what it means to represent this brand. This is a brand that transcends sports and normal comprehension abilities. The rafters at Staples Center say it all with regard to the dizzying array of retired numbers, and, more importantly, the banners.

But one could construct the argument that no one who has ever been affiliated with the organization grasps this history better than former Michigan State product Earvin “Magic” Johnson. What is more is that he not only grasps the idea—he is a guy who has proven it time and time again on and off the court.

Recently, the team announced that Magic will play the role of a business/basketball advisor. Mmm… mmm… mmm. Such sweet, soothing music to hear. Sweeter than the sound of a Marvin Gaye hit playing on the radio. It’s sweet because this is a person who is not even just connected with basketball history. He is connected with Los Angeles in general. He is arguably the aorta of the city as silly as that may appear to the eye.

The meaning behind that may not make logical sense to everyone, and, truth be told, it is fair to postulate that really nobody can make complete sense out of it. Perhaps the strongest way to boil it all down is the following: continually, Magic discerns not only how to bring a group of people together, but discerns how to actually get the various cogs to function cohesively. It’s a special gift that is incredibly difficult to come by. Incredibly.

Even though some would disagree, the NBA is not quite the same as it was years and years ago. It is not an in-and-out game as present as it used to be. There is not the same level of activity insofar as getting everyone involved, you know, that whole sharing the sugar cliché. A lot of it is driven by who can shoot the rock from the outside the best. Certain contests are literally shootouts more or less, and granted it can be exciting to peruse at moments when such shots are falling through the net, indeed, it can also be icky to view when the opposite prevails. It is not what Mr. Naismith originally designed so long ago—that is for sure.

Basketball wise, this is where Magic could be of service. Alas, he can no longer play, needless to say. Those days are long gone. Still, that takes nothing away from the mind he possesses, that acumen. He has this deeper grasp for the game that cannot be taught. It is as if he was born with it. It is almost eerie to think about, yet it is difficult to have a stance that would counteract this point. As a result, it is germane to pose that Magic could be a teacher for a Lakers group that is still learning.

It could be a matter of him giving detailed notes to personnel such as Luke Walton, offering suggestions on how to better do this and that in certain sequences. Better yet, it could trickle down to having one-on-one conversations with pieces like D’Angelo Russell, their starting point guard. No one did that job better in the history of the NBA than Johnson. He is the owner of the highest assists per game average, so, listening to him is probably wise, eh? Imagine getting tips from the magician himself and the possible carry over effect. It is not to say that Magic’s presence and advice dissemination will cure the Lakers losing ways in a heartbeat, but it is a vital step. Even just one tip, out of let’s say, one hundred, carrying over would be tremendous.

That’s what makes Magic great, too. Recently, in his postgame analysis on the subject, Big Game discussed the kind of individual his former Showtime teammate was and, well, still is. Worthy explained Magic’s ability to absorb various personalities and work with them. That alone makes such an acquisition beautiful. Certainly, Magic cannot physically control the on-the-court chemistry of the purple-and-gold anymore. His towering IQ, though, speaks volumes, and, on a different note, his unexplainable smile is enough to make the darkest of places light up.

It sounds like such a weird thing to focus on, but the seemingly trivial nature of it should not cause it to be thrown aside. It reveals the kind of guy he is, and in times when it may be hard to smile, the magnitude of him could be a starting point in getting this team back to what fans are more accustomed to. The smile is inviting, and is timeless. Let alone there being a million other attributes, such an engaging demeanor is likely why Jeanie Buss swooped in and made such a move.

In an article posted on usasports.com entitled “Magic Johnson to return to Lakers as ownership adviser,” the following words of Magic himself should be encouraging to supporters of the franchise: “‘Everyone knows my love for the Lakers,’ Johnson, 57, said. ‘Over the years, I have considered other management opportunities, however my devotion to the game and Los Angeles make the Lakers my first and only choice. I will do everything in my power to help return the Lakers to their rightful place among the elite teams of the NBA.’”

This could mean a variety of things for the squad. One of the bigger things to consider, though, is this. The Lakers have failed to convince any proven stars to join them in recent memory. Magic’s presence in a room could be a difference maker on the grounds that this is one of the group’s profound weaknesses. They do lack a proven leader, and the possibility of having one in the future would change the complexion of the franchise. Some could call this wishful thinking, sure. Yet, it is a possibility as was aforementioned and there is no denying it.

This is again not to say that the Lakers’ struggles will suddenly vanish. However, there is plenty of reason to be pumped up at this point. The fact of the matter, too, is that this extends beyond basketball strictly. He is a savvy, smart businessman. He has helped build up the City of Angels in ways that are not too easy to break down succinctly. To keep it as on point as possible, just look at the Dodgers. In Magic’s tenure as a partial owner, the Dodgers have been one of the best teams in the MLB (albeit, alas, the promised land has not been reached since 1988). They have, nevertheless, transformed into a force to be reckoned with. He is a winner, and desperately wants LA to have that.

In an nba.com composition entitled “Magic Johnson Discusses Role As Advisor to Lakers Ownership,” the all-time legend remarks that he sees promise in this current collection of talent. “‘That’s why I joined. If I felt we were far away and it was going to be a waste of my time, I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t have taken this role. I know that we have the pieces in place and we will continue to get better.’”

With all of this in mind, fans should be thrilled to have Magic back in this role. His actual role with the team is admittedly ambiguous, but let’s just leave it at this for the time being. This is Magic we’re talking about. In 1979, when he first joined the league, he was nothing more than a sparkling nickname. Now, everyone knows he has that classic nickname for a reason. He’s earned that privilege. With respect to any decision he makes, it is bound to make some kind of difference. That’s who he is, and he has consistently delivered over and over.

So, even though it is extremely, extremely difficult to be patient at this stage, bouncing back may be more so on the horizon than many think. It may seem inconceivable; however, the odds have amplified, even if the amplification is not monumental per se. The future is definitely filled with unknowns; in spite of this being the case, Johnson’s hiring shall, all things being taken into account, help, as he likewise believes. Every bit of help is needed, and Magic could be precisely what the doctor ordered. Yes, only time will tell; however, it is a move that signals that the Lakers could be onto something.

Should The Mamba Be Consulted?

A few games back the LA Lakers suffered their worst loss in the history of the franchise. Whilst no one likely wishes to be reminded of it due to the not so attractive margin of said loss, it unfortunately was an indicator that this team has a lot of strides to make. Even though the standings reveal slightly sexier numbers than what was surveyed last year at this exact interval, a defeat along those lines signals something that is of great concern. It really was an eyebrow raiser to convey the very least.

It would feasibly be worth forgetting about if not for the pace they are going at. Yes, thankfully, there have not been a whole lot of blowouts this year in comparison to last year. That element has been admittedly promising to some degree. Nonetheless, in the world of sports, “morale” victories really have no validity. A team does not earn, let’s say, 0.5 wins for trying.

The facts are unchangeable. The team has now lost 24 of their last 30 contests. It is plain and simple. There are multiple reasons for this, and disseminating a laundry list would only take up space. It thereby makes one wonder if additional help is needed in order for them to steer clear of the cellar in the Western Conference.

Some fans out there have been urging for the higher ups to potentially make a move or two to immediately bolster the roster not only in the short run, but for the long haul. Granted doing do would maybe result in a few more W’s, GM Mitch Kupchak has voiced that he is uninterested in trading any piece from the young core (which are, in all likelihood, the only desirable, marketable assets on this Lakers’ roster). The salaries of veteran players like Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov are more challenging for other teams to reconcile with as it is, and an individual like Nick Young is known for his hot/cold shooting streaks.

However, recent rumors that have surfaced insinuate another partial solution may be on the horizon, even if it is not necessarily immediate. The Lakers, in fact, would not need to sacrifice anything substantial aside from their eardrums.

5-time world champion Kobe Bryant recently branched out to the Buss family and the rest of the organization to inform them of his relentless commitment to the franchise’s future success. Even though he was candid in terms of admitting that he would be quite uninterested in front office type work, he seemed to declare that even in retiring from the game, he can be contacted anytime. This is encouraging to know by virtue of his newly discovered passion for content creation/storytelling. It exemplifies that a vestige of him remains connected to the game he played for so, so many years.

This immediately raises the interesting question: should the Mamba’s extension be taken seriously, or, on the other hand, casually shoved off for the lack of a better word? The truth is—well, there is no real, authentic answer.

As the basketball community ascertains, Kobe possesses a competitive zeal that is unmatched. It is a zeal that Mr. Webster himself would not be able to sufficiently define. That could very well be why Bryant decided to speak up. He may want to light a fire, so to speak, within this group because that is more or less how his DNA operates. That is nothing more than an incipient theory; however, it is logical to presume that this is partially why Bryant wants to offer a hand. Clearly, there are upsides and downsides to that.

Although it is undoubtedly true that the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer means well, Luke Walton did not hesitate when it came to describing his former teammate when recently interviewed. The coach suggested that Vino’s “tough love” could perhaps serve as a miniature detriment in lieu of it being an antidote to the trending woes. Walton’s assessment is right on the money, surely enough, and anyone who is even remotely familiar with Kobe would be able to concur. Bryant is not afraid to get in the face of anybody, and generally tells it like it is (even if, let’s say, the word choice he uses is wholeheartedly demeaning).

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There is a decent probability that his presence would demoralize some of the players on this roster. It is possible for the reason that very few assets have been in the NBA for more than a couple years. Thus, their understanding and feel for the game is just not the same. Needless to say, too, Kobe is Kobe. When arguably the best Laker of all-time is mulled over, the imbued expectations are at another tier. That’s just who he is, and his unbreakable thirst for everyone to play at their maximum potential is an ingredient that may not bode all too well with this particular recipe. On the other hand, let’s think this over a bit more thoroughly.

In spite of this, a middle ground of sorts could be worth pursuing at some point down the line, even if it occurs in the offseason. Kobe’s impeccable work ethic in itself could be enough to turn the ship around, for such habits are harder to come by in this day and age. Playing a role as a mentor in that regard may be worth consideration (albeit it’s an opinion and maybe wishful thinking on end of the line).

It could entail having occasional workouts with the youngsters in particular. It could be a matter of informing them of how to best handle their daily diet to therefore ensure prolonged health and success. Moreover, it could encapsulate working with some of the guys after practice on the fundamentals of the game and how to properly navigate through those. For instance, when Kobe’s footwork is thought about, it is germane to contend that his is among the best.

With that kind of information in mind, right now may not be the absolute strongest time to lure in Bryant. That is a fair posture to stick to. Notwithstanding the fact that the league (surprisingly) saw a semi softer side to Kobe in his 20th campaign, his natural demeanor is the furthest thing from that. Certainly, his alpha dog, gym rat style says enough, yet it is also why the idea should not be completely shredded. This is the kind of once-in-a-generation athlete that would perhaps take a week or two off after the conclusion of a season and then get straight back to training his body again. He is one of those special treasures. Such treasures are not found around every street corner. Consequently, while it’s an offer that should not be pounced on per se, is an offer that should not be handled mildly.

The Reality of this Lakers Squad

Going into the 2016-2017 campaign, the expectations of this Lakers roster were not necessarily sky high. Even though they got a rather high draft pick for the third consecutive year in Duke product Brandon Ingram, uncertainty galore was omnipresent. Even when the advertisements out there asserting that “the future is bright” kept being shown on air, a lot of teeth grinding was happening. Indubitably, it is logical given that the fans (let’s be real here) have been rather spoiled over the years. When it comes to a franchise whose history is richer than a ship full of Ghirardelli’s chocolate, losing does not even seem to be an option.

Needless to say, too, when a bona fide legend who will eventually be a first ballot Hall of Famer retires and a team lacks any immediate, glaring leadership presence, it is usually not the best recipe for success from an on paper frame of reference. Every team needs a guy (or two) that is unafraid to take the reins.

However, the team’s respectable 10-10 start proved a lot of doubters (myself included truth be told) wrong. Seemingly night in and night out, this primarily young Lakers team played with a tangible sense of purpose. They played with a chip on their shoulders. As “Big Game” James Worthy even put it one night from what I can recall during a postgame analysis, their identity was one he defined as “tough as nails” (words we have not heard in some time it feels like). There actually was this underlying glimmer of hope that virtually no one originally surmised.

It was amazing to behold. Even when the team did not necessarily finish on the winning end of the spectrum, the “fight” was there. That is the bottom line in sports—it is not always about results (although some out there may disagree), but bringing it to the opponent each and every possession. And the Lakers generally demonstrated this early on—it was beautiful and refreshing given that the prior three years in Hollywood were not too glittering to capture on film or anything like that.

But then, all of a sudden after that rock solid night in Chicago when the group played arguably their best team defense all year, something changed for some reason. The tenacity and fire started to die out. It is as if the Windy City blew it all away. Yes, we all grasp the whole youth and injuries arguments. Everyone knew about the former parcel of information, though, before play even commenced. And, let’s be plain and simple with the other snippet—injuries can happen to any team. They are what they are, alas, as much as they are despised. But, there is no need to elaborate on those right now. They are getting to be too overused by this point in time.

Indeed, when it comes to a group that does not have a plethora of experience being together, it’s not like anyone anticipated them to magically erupt back to the kind of squad they were in the later 2000’s when they ultimately made three straight Finals appearances. Be that as it may, there is still a fine line that has to be drawn after a while. This is the NBA, after all. This is not a chummy game of lightning at recess on a junior high playground.

In no corporate office would some of these performances by the purple-and-gold be remotely acceptable. With that being said, I seriously think higher accountability needs to be instilled. It could be a matter of Coach Walton shuffling the rotation around a bit. Let certain guys who deserve playing time get it, and let others earn their stripes as the saying is constructed. It could perhaps be a matter of focusing more intently on the fundamentals in practice (like boxing out, for example) in order to therefore limit second chance opportunities. It could scale itself down to someone (I frankly do not care who) getting into the heads of their teammates by being a vocal role model—demanding more. Based on various postgame interviews this year, both players and coaches readily admit the team can be quiet for the most part. Getting out of that comfort zone may ignite a wee bit of fire. Whilst I could go on and on regarding these nitty gritty details, what really needs to be done, though, is something that goes beyond this. It is something that extends beyond what I have already said.

It literally boils down to the sustenance of effort over 48 minutes of play. No ifs, ands, or buts. Granted winning is certainly ideal (well, duh, right?!) the bare minimum in a lofty profession along these lines is to bring relentless effort into each contest. That is an extremely fair expectation to have even supposing that I am a mere surveyor. Unfortunately, this is an area that this Lakers unit needs to work on notwithstanding the fact that well over half the season is in the books. For whatever reason, they’ll look pretty decent during spurts of games. They will look okay enough to where it looks like they have a relatively decent shot at stealing a “W.” But somewhere along the way, the energy dwindles down.

Playing well for, let’s say, a half is definitely not enough. Heck, it is plausible to say that keeping the foot planted on the gas pedal for 47 minutes is not sufficient, either. It’s the full duration.

That is what it takes. I really hope sooner or later the Lakers understand that. Perfect results are not going to transpire all the time, but that never die attitude is something each member must exhibit. This is a man’s league, so, as a result, sporadic stretches are simply inexcusable. Once more, I fathom that there are multiple players in their early twenties on this roster—heck, one of them is still a teenager. I hate to be real in another regard, too, but I will. Most of these players make far more than any ordinary person could even dare to dream about. As long as their funds are not utilized to acquire like a hundred Ferraris, let’s say, a lot of these athletes are essentially set for life. Thus, I think the aforementioned stipulation is more than reasonable.

Some incipiently say, too, that teams sometimes have to wade their way through hell in an effort to grow. It is germane to presume that this could be a similar theme being seen here. This not so kind season could be a way of waking this group up—just a theory. All I can put forward for now is that I sincerely hope this theory is true. Enough can be enough after a decent period of time, and when you’re fortunate enough to be wearing the purple and gold, there needs to come a certain amount of pride. The names and banners in the rafters speak for themselves, and one would think that playing for such a franchise would be more than enough incentive.

As a spectator, I am not trying to sound unfeasible or harsh. The reality of the matter is that this will still take time and patience. That should not be all too shocking to hear. I do not think that even the most optimistic fan believes that this team is built to make a deep playoff run in the immediate future. In spite of that, giving it everything matters in anything in general. This group needs to start establishing those types of habits for the reason that I do believe (whenever it specifically occurs is unknown, though) they will indeed have an uncanny way of paying off.