Skip to comments.Lakers likely to be very unlikable champions
Posted on 06/02/2004 6:39:30 PM PDT by ambrose
Posted on Wed, Jun. 02, 2004
Lakers likely to be very unlikable champions
By Reggie Hayes
of The News-Sentinel
IF -- OK, WHEN -- THE Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA title this year, they'll be the most unlikable champions in history.
Arrogant, bullying, condescending, the list goes on and on. And that's just their lawyers.
Almost every previous NBA champion has had a sliver of charm. Even the Detroit Pistons in their "Bad Boys" era: Joe Dumars and coach Chuck Daly were the class exceptions to the crass exploits of Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman. Michael Jordan's Bulls were bullies in a sense -- they, too, had Rodman -- but Jordan's beloved persona canceled out any negatives.
Winning doesn't always inspire contempt. Some champs, including the Magic Johnson-led Lakers of the 1980s, were dominant, yet easy to embrace. Same with the Spurs of Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Good guys, great players. Easy to like, if not love.
Yet once this year's Lakers are crowned, they'll be almost universally loathed. The lone locale of love for the team will be Jack Nicholson's post-series, no-refs-allowed party.
How do we despise the Lakers?
Let us count the ways:
* The Kobe court farce. Is there anyone who isn't sickened by the praise Bryant receives for traveling to a court appearance in Colorado, then having the "focus" to play a basketball game?
The jury will decide whether he's guilty or not guilty of rape. Bryant may, in fact, come out of the trial with a clean criminal record. But courtroom reconstruction of his alleged crime-time behavior will still quiet most cheers. Few have tarnished their image more quickly or thoroughly.
* Phil Jackson, genius. If Jackson wins, he'll have 10 championship rings, the most of any coach in a team sport. There's no doubt he can coach, even conceding him the benefit of rosters with Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant. Finding a way to turn around this year's dysfunctional Lakers team makes Jackson a real Dr. Phil.
But we're still tired of hearing about his superiority. Give Jackson the Miami Heat for a couple years, and he'd be Pat Riley with creepy facial hair.
* Gary "the Glove" Payton's pout. He's old, self-centered, grumpy and too stuck in his ways to change. It's too bad Walter Matthau isn't around to play him in the movie version.
* Shaq and the Mailman. No one enjoys watching the biggest and strongest win all the time. It's no fun seeing O'Neal and Karl "Mailman" Malone use their sizable backsides to clear the way to the hoop. True, that's how the NBA works inside, but we don't have to like it.
Malone's quest to erase his blemish as the highest career scorer without a title is cheapened by the fact he left Utah and John Stockton behind to do so. Plus, he gets away with murder by elbow in the paint.
* Good guys brushed aside. Rick Fox, Derek Fisher and Kareem Rush seem like players Laker haters could grow to like, if we could forgive Fox for his lame commercials with wife Vanessa Williams. But those guys are obscured by the shadows of the Big Four. Rush's clutch shooting in the deciding win over Minnesota turned into a story of how Shaq and Kobe motivated him in different ways. They even fight over who's the best mentor?
* Lakers fans. Most of their Hollywood fans are famous for being famous (Nicholson excluded). Their favorite hobbies include being seen at Lakers games and getting a great deal on plastic surgery. They'd have a hard time identifying middle America, let alone connecting with it. How annoying are Lakers fans? They make you miss Spike Lee.
These Lakers are the antithesis of lovable. They represent the worst of what money can buy. Plus, they get all the breaks. No, I don't have proof, other than Fisher's bucket with 0.4 seconds left against the Spurs, and Shaq getting away with fouls in the paint that roughly number infinity.
What's not to love?
With these Lakers, everything.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. "Ask Reggie" can be found under Sports at news-sentinel.com. E-mail Reggie Hayes at email@example.com.
1952 (Eisenhower), 1968 (Nixon), 1972 (Nixon), 1980 (Reagan), 1984 (Reagan), 1988 (Bush), 2000 (Bush)
GO PISTONS!!!! jack and the boyz are goin down!!!!
Being popular is overrated. So what if the Lakers aren't liked. That makes it all the more satisfying when they kick ass once again.
The bad boys are back! 1989 all over again!!!!
More like 1988. :)
The Lakers lost in 1989 due to injuries.
The 1989 Pistons was a sweep right in See BS's Face!
Bill Laimbeer was a Sleestak
last minute, ouch. started out better tonight, but not looking so hot for Lakers now ... 11 seconds, Kobe w/ball....
nba tidbit from tv screen: "no team has ever [before] won championship after losing first two games at home."
but WHOA --- THREE POINTER FROM KOBE JUST WHEN WE NEEDED IT! what, is there no thread on the games?
whoooohoooo, the crowd goes wild! going into overtime after all! great save, Kobe!
I'm just grateful again, though, for one more awesome role player performance. Thank you, Luke! Outstanding game.
Props to the Pistons. I believe this game was a much better played game by them then Game 1. Their defense was outstanding on Shaq. They contested a lot of shots. They disrupted the flow of the Lakers' defense. I came away impressed. But it was not enough.
Usually, the Lakers have one miracle shot in a championships season during their playoff run. Now, they have two! That's a good omen for another championship. Again, I say they take 2 of 3 in Detroit.
It was a great game! I'm still smiling at Kobe's classic "seconds to go" save. WHOOOHOOO!
Unlikable and unvictorious.