COMMENTARY | The end of summer also brings new beginnings -- new network TV shows, students going back to school and the return of the NBA season. It's a time of new hope for what might be in the coming months.
Well, for everyone besides students.
The Los Angeles Lakers and their fans start this season with a significant amount of dread mixed in with their hope as they mentally prepare for what might be an awful season.
We're not talking a Charlotte Bobcats-level disaster. However, for the Lakers, anything less than the second round of the playoffs is a severe disappointment. They've missed the playoffs only five times in franchise history.
LA has a wide variety of cultural oddities. One of which is its almost apocalyptic response to the arrival of rain. Freeways slow to an even slower crawl, mass cancellations of activities, traffic accidents abound -- the people of LA freak out.
Those first drops of rain throw the city into the final scenes of a blockbuster disaster movie where imminent death is certain for all. And it's looking like that's what you can expect from Lakers fans this season.
Like any disaster film, the Lakers' season should start off pleasant enough. They have a solid core of players in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. They have a coach with a respectable track record. Everybody's tied for first place at 0-0.
The plot starts to unfold when we see that Dwight Howard -- a better player than any of the three core guys -- has been replaced by Chris Kaman. This is not only a severe drop in talent, but it also prohibits Gasol from playing center, where his skill set is really at its best.
Speaking of severe drops in talent, if you're a fan of horror films or depressing indie films where everybody kills himself at the end, then you are going to love the rest of the team's roster.
At this point of the disaster film, someone has to warn the president of the United States -- which in this case is Jim Buss. Yikes, things just got worse.
Our heroes won't give up easy, though -- that's why they're called heroes. Also they're paid millions of dollars to do so (just like real heroes?). The plot twist that we all see coming, but still aren't ready to deal with, is the injuries.
Bryant tore his Achilles just a few months ago and now he's trying to make it back for the season opener. OK, sure. But if this was a movie, none of us would believe that -- unless robotics were somehow involved. Oh, I like that: The Kobot!
And Steve Nash is sure to get in on the injury action. In addition to passing and looking handsome, that's one of the things he does best.
At this point of the film, there's always a scene where they destroy a major city, so that it's clear that this asteroid impact/alien invasion/weather fiasco is for real and you have to start wondering just how bad the devastation will be.
The Lakers, however, find themselves in a position where a more disastrous season could actually result in saving them long-term. If The Kobot and his motley crew of loveable losers can bottom out this year, it would help them with a better pick in the first round of next year's draft -- the one draft pick they didn't trade away.
Then there's the free agency extravaganza of 2014 that could be unleashed on the world if LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire terminate their current contracts.
And the Lakers always seem to be able to get one of the league's superstars to suit up.
Come on, this is Hollywood. No matter how dark and bleak the destruction is after this all plays out, the Lakers will eventually prevail -- they always do. In a disaster film, the stars always seem to survive and the Lakers are one of the stars of the NBA.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a sportswriter. You can see him on Twitter @JedRigney.
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