I’m looking forward to the start of the NBA season tonight. The Lakers are the one sports team that I’m not a fairweather fan of. Probably has to do with attending games at the Great Western Forum when I was a kid and growing up with them.
It’s nice that the Lakers are so strong again. Last year, when they started 17-2, there was talk of eclipsing the Chicago Bulls’ improbable 72-10 record in 1995-96. But they “only” ended up with 68 wins despite having Andrew Bynum go down in January and being pretty much out of commission the rest of the year.
This year, with the addition of Ron Artest, Bynum looking strong in the pre-season, and the Lakers coming off a dominant playoff run that culminated in the championship, the expectations are even higher. As you’d expect, there’s again talk of that inhuman 72-10 record (LAT).
Winning 6 additional games to end up at 73-9 seems easy enough — heh — but I’m not going to make any predictions at where they’ll end up. A key injury could be the difference between 50, 60 or 70 wins. (I can’t believe I’m talking about 60 and 70 wins so casually.) But that’s what the last 30 years of Lakers basketball has done to this city — nothing short of a championship is considered a successful season by LA fans.
Here’s a video of the 1987 ring ceremony presided over by Chick Hearn. Chick looks so young here — he’s definitely missed. (via LAT Lakers Blog)
Speaking of LA’s basketball expectations, there’s the flip side. The Clippers have the #1 pick in Blake Griffin and a bona fide star in Baron Davis, but nobody cares about that team. All expectations are that they will ruin the careers of those guys and have an early summer vacation yet again. It’s striking the difference in expectations between the two LA teams who play in the same arena.