June 08, 2008

A Great Comeback Falls Short

If you asked me to name my favorite sports teams I would tell you that they are The Lakers, The Dodgers and The Raiders. If you ask me to name an American League team I'll pick The Angels, in part because of their coaching staff who are former Dodgers.

Remember, I am a dreamer who still believes in the magic of dreams. Happy endings don't have to something that only happens in movies or cheap massage parlors. I know, in a number of posts I have written that I don't always believe in happy endings. That is true, but at the same time my heart tells me that if you believe magic can happen.

Watched The Lakers play the hated ones and gritted my teeth. For most of the game they looked awful and out of sorts. I watched Academy Award nominee Paul Pierce and his fake knee injury run up and down the court. I watched and tried not to crawl out of my skin.

Most of the time I just brush it off. Sports aren't that important. The players don't lose any sleep over how I feel, why should I be bothered by by it. But the truth is that at this time of year it sometimes gets under my skin.

I get a lot of pleasure from watching the game. I am grounded in reality, so I don't engage in silly fantasies that I can play like Magic or Jordan. But I enough of a dreamer to imagine that I could be a role player. Championships are won because of role players. They guys that do the little things, the dirty work that people forget about. That is my game. That is exactly my game. I play solid defense, I rebound, I hustle, I outwork the other guy.

So sometimes in my head I can hear Chick Hearn praising my accomplishments. I could be that guy.

Tonight as the game progressed I watched the boys falter. I saw them lose their edge and watched as some of them surrendered. I hate that. I hate it, I hate it. Maybe it is because somewhere inside this 39 year old is a little boy who wishes that he could play pro ball for a living. Maybe it is because every time I hear those bastards chanting "Beat LA" I get fired up.

I love sticking it in their faces. I love watching my boys take the crowd out of the game. For a while tonight I wondered if they had any fire at all in their bellies.

And then from 24 points down they came roaring back. The impossible became the improbable and went all the way from unlikely to maybe. Five three pointers were part of a 41 point fourth quarter push that came up short.

For the first time all night I saw fear in the eyes of the celtics. For the first time all night I saw the Lakers get up on the balls of their feet and take it to those guys and I loved it.

I loved it because it touched upon every bad cliche you can think of. It was the tired prize fighter refusing to be knocked out. It was the guy who gets knocked down over and over and still gets back up again.

Look, if The Lakers lose the series I am going to have to eat a lot of crow. I hate the taste of leather. I talked the boys up. I still believe the the NBA east is a subpar division that isn't nearly as hard to get through as the West.

But that doesn't matter. The winner of this will be the winner. So while The Lakers cames close to pulling off one of the great comebacks of all time, they still lost. Now the series comes back home and we'll see what happens.

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