"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
As a Lakers fan I remember the past. And if history repeats itself, the 2012 Los Angeles Lakers will lose in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
The Lakers current winning percentage is .631 (41-24) with just one meaningless regular season game against the Sacramento Kings left to play.
With a .631 winning percentage, recent Lakers history is condemning the team's season to end in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Since Kobe Bryant entered the league in 1997 the Lakers have made the playoffs every year except for 2005, and in the Kobe-era the Lakers regular season record has been a very effective predictor of how the team will fare in the playoffs. With data taken from pro-basketball-reference.com, here is how the Kobe Bryant-era Lakers have performed in their fourteen postseasons since 1997 when compared to their regular season winning percentage:
Western Conference First Round Loss: .531 average regular season Win % (2006, 2007)
Phil Jackson returned to coach the Lakers in 2006 after taking a one-year vacation and watching the 2005 team miss the playoffs. Kobe Bryant led the NBA in scoring in 2006 and 2007, dropping 35.4 and 31.6 PPG, respectively. But the postseason was not kind to the Lakers as they fell two years in a row to the Phoenix Suns. The 2012 Lakers winning percentage of .631 is much better than the .531 of the 2006 and 2007 teams that lost in the first round, so I hope this means the Lakers will have a good chance at advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals this year.
Western Conference Semifinals Loss: .652 average regular season Win % (1997, 1999, 2003, 2011)
The 2012 Lakers .631 winning percentage is closest to the .652 average winning percentage of previous Lakers teams that bowed out in the second of the playoffs. If history is any indicator of how this year's team will perform in the postseason, expect another Western Conference Semifinals loss for the Lakers.
Western Conference Finals Loss: .744 average regular season Win % (1998)
Since Kobe joined the Lakers, the team has only lost once in the Western Conference Finals - a 1998 four-game sweep at the hands of the Utah Jazz. After 14 years I still remember how angry I was when I saw the Sports Illustrated "Wipeout" cover.
NBA Finals Loss: .689 average regular season Win % (2004, 2008)
The 2004 Finals signaled the end of the Shaq/Kobe/Phil Lakers. The Lakers brought in Karl Malone and Gary Payton in 2004 hoping the hungry veterans would address the on-going issues at power forward and point guard. But an injured Karl Malone was limited to 42 games and Gary Payton disappeared in the playoffs (7.8 PPG on 36.6% shooting) as the Lakers lost 4-1 to the Pistons, ending an era in Los Angeles.
Won NBA Finals: .739 average regular season Win % (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
During the five Kobe-era championship years, the Lakers steamrolled in the regular season with an average .739 winning percentage. With Kobe helping lead the way, the Lakers became champions in 2000 by working the Indiana Pacers. The next victim was the Sixers. Then the Nets. Then the Celtics. Then the Magic.
As a Lakers fan I want to see the list of Lakers Finals victims grows in 2012 and watch Kobe celebrate his sixth NBA title. But with a .631 regular season winning percentage, the Kobe-era Lakers history is pointing toward a second round playoff exit.
Hopefully the Lakers remember the past, and are not condemned to repeat it.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. More from this author:
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