Getting to the Finals three straight years is difficult. Winning three straight NBA titles is rare. Getting to the Finals four consecutive years in a row and winning three of those times is almost impossible.
That is the task the Lakers were pitted with before the season began. So far it is a mountain they seem incapable of climbing.
Losing focus during the regular season is something we’ve seen from many Phil Jackson coached teams. Each year after winning a title, his squads seems to slack a little more each year, forever relying on the ability to flip the switch at the appropriate time. This time around it is much different though.
This time around the Lake Show is venturing out into waters not even PJ himself has ever tested.
Trying to make it four years running of Finals appearances is catching up with the tired Lakers. All the minutes they’ve logged over the course of the last three years has created listless performances and an aloof personality that rears its ugly head at the worst times. Losing on Christmas day wasn’t a warning. It was a sign. A sign of things to come if this teams doesn’t start taking its competition more seriously.
Derek Fisher warned his teammates of this very early in the season after the Lakers won a sloppy contest over the overmatched T-Wolves. Kobe Bryant reiterated the same after the pathetic loss to the Heat.
Now, the only question is who is listening to these voices of reason in the locker room?
Both Bryant and Fisher need to take a look in the mirror. KB24 hasn’t exactly played up to standards every night and has even shown signs of reverting to the trust-no-teammate Mamba circa ’06. Meanwhile Fisher has been all but invisible this season. Pau Gasol began the year as an MVP candidate but is currently looking more like a second tier talent and not the elite level big man he is.
The leaders need to get a hold of this team. We’re almost half way through the season and to date the best win these Lakers have is over the Bulls. That’s not exactly a prized kill worth mounting nor is the 21-9 pace they’re currently on good enough to earn homecourt in the playoffs.
Christmas wasn’t a wakeup call. It was a reminder. A reminder of how much better the competition has gotten and how much further these Lakers have to go until they’re back to Championship standards.