Is anyone still out there? Have we abandoned this Lakers squad to smoke wax in the Bronson Canyon Batcave? Television ratings have plummeted 38 percent from last year. The team's record is 18-36, complete with eight straight home losses. Calling this season a bloodbath sullies the fine name of both blood and baths.
If the season ended tomorrow, it would mark the worst Lakers winning percentage since moving to Los Angeles. The last time the Lakers were this bad Marilyn Monroe was in and out of the White House and Jewish point guards were actively plotzing in the NBA. Lakers fans lack the antibodies to withstand this sort of pummeling.
Of course, the rest of the league is having a marvelous time attempting to correctly pronounce the term schadenfreude. Examine this video of the Houston Rockets mocking Staples Center's' “Howard Sucks” chants, after demolishing the Lakers by 28 points on Wednesday night. Adding insult was Dwight Howard's admission that what he missed most about Los Angeles was Sprinkles cupcakes. That's like leaving the Knicks and lamenting your distance from the Magnolia Bakery. (In case you wanted to extend this metaphor, Dwight would be a Samantha.)
This Thursday's trade deadline elapsed with the Lakers giving away Steve Blake for a $50 gift certificate to the Olive Garden and the rights to draft any breadstick of their choosing. To the franchise's credit, they refused to accept paltry offers for Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill. To its detriment, they failed to acquire any assets for the rebuilding process – which looks set to last until Obama is out of office.
No coaching change or single free agent signing will transform the Lakers into immediate championship or (maybe) even playoff contenders. The West is that good, and the injury hex of recent years makes me think that I should be reading Stephen King for omens. Leading up to the All-Star break, Lakers players had missed 191 total games to injuries, easily the highest total in the league.
Last season, we were in the panic zone. This year, we're in the bunker, semi-automatic to the temple, Teutonic blonde mistress by our side, cyanide-fizzing. Then again, Q-Tip taught us that things go in cycles. Our winter of double-dribble discontent will eventually be replaced by brighter fortunes, or at least baseball seasons. With cold-blooded confidence and low-level substance abuse, we will endure this gulch. One day, other teams' fans will again tell our players they suck and actually be incorrect.
With that in mind, here are 10 ways to endure the days until the draft lottery.
10. Revel in Kobe's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
Rarely has an icon taken to social media with such flair and baffling awkwardness. Yesterday, he created a mild controversy by Tweeting that he was “not cool AT ALL” with the giveaway of the “psycho” competitive Steve Blake (AKA “Vino Blanco”).
For Valentine's Day, he Instagrammed a semi-nude of his wife, Vanessa, purring in black bondage lingerie. At this point, he's one frustration away from buying ripped jeans and re-enacting the “Bound 2” video. We are luckier for it.
Turn the page for nine more modes of survival in this hellish season.
9. Hibernate with Vintage Games on YouTube
The Lakers have less than 30 games left this season. It's unlikely that they'll win more than 10 of them. Before the game against the Rockets, the ESPN announcers actually said that they had no legitimate chance of winning. That's one of the only times I've ever seriously heard someone say that about the Lakers.
Therein, there's a YouTube goldmine of excellent basketball from the last three decades. The user Mr. NBA Junkie alone has finals games from 2001 (Lakers vs. 76ers), 1987 (Lakers vs. Celtics), and 1991 (Bulls vs. Lakers.) If the low ebb lasts longer than expected, you can take it back to the 1972 Lakers-Knicks Finals.
If all else fails, there's George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers squaring off against the Syracuse Nationals and the imperious and mighty Wally Osterkorn.
8. Scout Kansas, Duke, and Kentucky
The Lakers are currently tied for the fourth worst record in the league. The consolation for such statistical misery is draft lottery ping pong balls. With the proper combination of luck and chicanery, they should receive a top three pick in the draft. This means they'll be able to draft Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid of Kansas, Julius Randle of Kentucky, or Jabari Parker.
Many scouts project them as future All-Stars. Of course, picking college prospects can be like trying to predict which member of a boy band will go on to have the longest solo career. Anyone can be a Fatone or an Olowokandi, but you also might have an early glimpse at the next jersey to hang from the rafters (or at least after Kobe and Pau).
7. Enjoy the Last Months of Pau Gasol
Some fans advocated shipping Pau out to search for paella at the Scottsdale Mall. And if Phoenix had been willing to part with a first rounder, trading Gasol was the right move.
But Gasol's groin injury made him less attractive to potential suitors. Thus, Lakers fans will witness what are likely to be his final months in purple and gold. As I have previously stated, Pau is the most based man in the NBA – – a combination of St. Francis of Assisi, Lil B, and Kevin McHale. He brings an avian dignity to the team and though he's currently moving with the speed of someone who has drank six sangrias, he remains a fundamentally beautiful player to watch. He also just Tweeted: “Thanks for all of your support in the middle of all these rumors & uncertainty. Now let's focus on playing well for the rest of the season!”
He's one step away from signing off his tweets “Plur.”
6. (Briefly) Accept the Tenets of Liberated Fandom
Until this season, the idea of rooting for another team seemed defeatist at best, traitorous at worst. Even if the Lakers weren't in championship contention for half of the last decade, they still had the game's best player in his prime. There were very few games that they couldn't theoretically win on any given Kobe spree. Those days are like a trite Kansas song. It's depressing, but we need to accept the changing of the guard and maybe half-heartedly root for another franchise.
The easy choice is the Indiana Pacers, who seem like a bunch of hyper-intense yet chill bros who aren't the Miami Heat. Roy Hibbert also is probably the funniest guy in the League and helped Jean-Ralphio dunk.
Other recommended choices include Portland, Golden State, and Phoenix.
5. Root for the Clippers
There's one part of me that refuses to root for a team owned by a man who rightfully earned a column named “Today in Donald Sterling is an Ugly Racist.”
The other part says that this is L.A., and the Clippers are an exciting basketball team to watch. More importantly, there was an Internet rumor that Blake Griffin smacked up Justin Bieber at a West Hollywood Starbucks. It's supposedly untrue, but even so, it more than makes up for those stupid Kia commercials.
4. The Dodgers
The first Spring Training game is only about a week away.
3. This Week in Swaggy P
This week, Nick Young was caught on camera checking his phone during the Houston game. He received an on-air reprimand from announcer Jeff Van Gundy, but Jeff V. isn't privy to the bevy of riches that Swaggy P inevitably gets via Snapchat, and Instagram Direct Message. He and his girlfriend Iggy Azealia recently did a carnal GQ spread that looks like it was shot in Chatsworth.
Next week, it will be something else. The goal is for Kobe and Swaggy to spur each other to greater and more absurd heights. For now, Kobe of Arabia remains the Laurence Olivier of looks and a crucial inspiration of Pharrell's Grammy hat.
2. Convince Phil Jackson to Give Mike D' Antoni A Reading List
Someone reading this has to have some sort of connect to Phil. Maybe he can send over a few literary recommendations. Perhaps an online meditation course idea. Maybe he can help suggest a new defensive scheme or two?
And the No. 1 way to make it out of this Lakers season?
1. Acquire Kevin Love By Any Means Necessary
When I recently interviewed Hit Boy, the producer of “Niggas in Paris,” he told me that he had seen Kevin Love shopping for Bentleys in LA. By that logic, Hit Boy deduced that Kevin Love was destined to come to Los Angeles. That works for me.
Still, if you see Kevin Love at any point from now until 2015, let him know that the weed spots have only got better and more affordable since his days as a Bruin, and that if he joins the Lakers, Top Dawg will probably let him become the fifth member of Black Hippy.
Same goes for you, Chris Bosh. Maybe.