End of an era

10 05 2011

Anti-Lakers fans feel that us fans of the Purple and Gold should be satisfied with the two NBA titles they’ve won in the last two years, and the five clinched since 2000. It’s not that easy. I’ve explained to some of my friends that there is a difference between one’s favorite team winning a championship and continuing a dynasty. Therefore, there’s a huge difference between watching a team lose a chance to win a title and watching the end of an era. That’s what happened with the Lakers on Sunday.

Kobe Bryant will continue to be The Man and at least one – probably two – of Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will be on L.A. next season. Luke Walton and his bad back will be there – the Lakers won’t find a team to take the two years remaining on his deal – and Derek Fisher has two more years with the Lakers, assuming he activates his player option for 2012-13. Yet Phil Jackson’s expected retirement changes everything. The Lakers won’t be the Lakers as we’ve known them by-and-large since the 1999-00 season. Think for a minute where you were in your life in ’99. Ponder for a minute where you are now and how much has changed in your life between then and now; you begin to realize why sentimentalism reigns supreme at times like this for Lakers fans. For all but one season from ’99-’00 until now – that tortuous 34-win 2004-05 being the exception when Phil was essentially on a sabbatical – Jackson has been the Lakers’ head coach.

For him to go out the way he did, in a sweep and with Bynum and Odom performing their best Bill Laimbeer impersonations, was unfair. Of course, the person perhaps least affected by that is Jackson. We, as fans, always seem to worry more about a coach’s or athlete’s legacy than the coach or athlete himself. I bet Jackson is likely at peace with what happened during this Lakers season, although I doubt he’ll ever be content. He’s too competitive for that.

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