Maybe I knew the Jazz weren’t going to beat LA in the playoffs this year. Maybe my years of experience teaching argument have taught me to recognize both sides of an issue. Maybe I’m just growing up, and not letting silly things like pro basketball get to me anymore. Whatever the reason, I was surprised this spring to realize that I don’t hate the Los Angeles Lakers as much as I used to.
With all due respect to the wise, charitable Josh that’s fighting to emerge, this epiphany didn’t sit very well with me. I’ve invested a lot of time and energy in my Laker hatred over the years, and I can’t discard it without a fight. So during Game One of the Finals last night, I made a pro-con list to figure out if what I was feeling was legitimate or just an aberration:
Reasons to Like the Lakers
1. Jack Nicholson: The Lakers are notorious for bandwagon celebrity fans, but I can’t count Nicholson as one of them. “The Cuckoo Man” has been a courtside season ticket holder since before I was born. He’s legit.
2. Kobe’s 3-Ball: I don’t like Kobe Bryant, but I do respect his abilities. He's got one shot where he’s somewhere outside the three-point arc, with a defender right on top of him. Suddenly he explodes into the air and fires a line drive three-ball at the hoop that swishes with such authority it’s like a punch to the face. It’s a shot of pure defiance. I kind of like it.
3. Kurt Rambis: My Laker hatred traces back to 1988, when the Jazz took LA to seven games in the second round of the 87-88 playoffs. But even back then, I had to like their scrappy backup forward, with his Buddy Holly glasses and post-hippie homeless man haircut. Who wouldn’t?
Reasons to Hate the Lakers
1. Yellow Home Uniforms: Everyone in the NBA wears white uniforms when they play home games, except the Lakers, who wear yellow. Yellow. Seriously.
2. Bandwagon Celebrity Fans: Laker home crowds are the NBA’s answer to the Large and Spacious Building from the Book of Mormon. And the obligatory “celebrities in the crowd” montage? Nauseating.
3. Phil Jackson: Captain Smug...Captain Smug.
4. The Black Mamba: Sorry, you can’t give yourself your own nickname. Especially when you do stuff like this.
5. Derek Fisher: I wish nothing but the best for his kid, but every time Fisher hits another deep three against the Jazz, he personifies everything that sucks about cheering for a small market team.
6. Sasha Vujacic: I don’t know Sasha Vujacic. I have never met Sasha Vujacic. All I know is that whenever I see Sasha Vujacic, I want to slap him. Hard.
8. Pau Gasol, Gary Payton and Karl Malone: Hey, remember that time the Jazz traded a lottery bust, some no-names and a couple of crap picks for one of the top power forwards in the league? You remember that other time when those two future Hall of Famer’s signed modest contracts with the Jazz so they could make one last run for a title? Yeah, me neither.
OK, that feels better. Hatred restored. Let the games resume.