Dear God of Sport,
This prayer comes in the name of the healing and restoration of the NBA.
The playoffs are happening now, blessed with tension and talent. What a show! Thank you for the young people among us, starting with Ja Morant and Jordan Poole. Protect the health of the big, gray-haired Noah known as Chris Paul.
The vigor he has brought back to the Boston Celtics is a beauty to behold.
But something is missing: the Los Angeles Lakers. Any postseason without the Lakers feels like a cosmic bond breaking.
For all to be well in Hoop Kingdom, the Lakers need to be a fixture in the playoff firmament; Just like in all but five seasons from his birth in the late 1940s to 2014, when Kobe Bryant (may he and his love rest easy) began to inch closer to retirement.
The Lakers are loved and hated like no other team. They give extra attention, atmosphere and legitimacy to the postseason. Nothing is the same without them in the mix.
Great Spirit of Sports, the Lakers now roam the desert. With this season’s epic collapse, they have failed to make the postseason in seven of the last nine years. Yes, they reached the highest heights in 2020. But that season’s NBA championship ended inside a pandemic bubble. Two years ago now it seems 20. Today, the path to that title is a parable that few remember. It was only a dream?
Basketball fans have been abandoned. A generation walks through the desert, never having seen a mighty Lakers team challenge Steph Curry and Golden State with everything on the line.
But you never let us down, God of sports. In the midst of the playoffs, he has scattered reminders of the Lakers brilliance for all to see, at least those of us who subscribe to HBO Max and Apple TV+.
Last week came the presentation on Apple TV + of the documentary “They Call Me Magic”.
Please allow good reviews.
Heal the hearts of the Lakers family, who are now haunted by another recent performance, the HBO series “Winning Time.” It’s classic Hollywood: a dazzling mix of fact, fiction and glamorous dramatic license that focuses on the team’s Showtime era in the 1980s. All that off-the-court excess, all that soap opera intrigue, along with those five titles of league
That series has caused hurt feelings and wounded pride to consume Lakersland.
Jerry West demanded a retraction and an apology from HBO for the fictional and overheated way he is portrayed.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called the series a deliberately dishonest interpretation, “with characters that are stick figure representations that look like real people in the same way that Lego Han Solo looks like Harrison Ford.”
Magic Johnson, the show’s centerpiece, the polestar of the Showtime era, said he hadn’t seen the series and was not telling the truth. Confused, I know.
Lord of the hoops, great giver of the 3-point shot, far be it from me to tell these basketball legends that their anger is misplaced. But ease your troubles. Remind them that few will watch a series like “Winning Time” in these jarring days without being aware of the joke.
Help them see the irony: The Lakers’ iconic modern image was built in part on the smoke and mirrors of Hollywood. On the cover-up and distortion of reality. In fact, in magic.
The Lakers of the 1980s were more than just a team that won five championships in a decade. Its uniqueness came not just from those titles but from the power of fantasy: the Forum Club, the Lakers Girls, the age-defying movie stars in every other seat.
Remind the aggrieved Lakers of their team’s narrative twists. Their historic rise in the 1980s was portrayed as villains for the Boston Celtics and drawn with simple strokes: the cool black team got in the way of the boring white team.
Yes, Boston had Larry Bird and other white stars, but it also had Black Celtics like Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish and Cedric Maxwell, legends in their own right.
And what team had a black head coach? The Celtics, led by KC Jones for two of his three NBA crowns in that decade.
In the long narrative of this duel, the city of Boston has often been portrayed as steeped in racism. But simple stories, as you well know, sometimes mask the complicated truth. Los Angeles has always had plenty of issues of its own with the breed.
Injustice exists everywhere. Greatness is a rarer thing. The greatness of 17 NBA championships motivated the Lakers, although mythology has always been part of their history.
O mighty one, in the name of St. Elgin, ease the burden of former Lakers who feel aggrieved.
Then go back to hardwood.
Restore LeBron James, his brittle knees and 37-year-old back.
Remind him that all good things come in due time, as long as the delivery time starts next season. The entertainment empire he is building in Los Angeles is something to behold. But being a movie mogul and the strength of the community flows first from the river of NBA championships.
Consider the purgatory for the front office executives who signed Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and the other major Lakers before this season.
When you’re done replenishing the Hollywood team, would you mind bestowing an even greater miracle on another basketball calamity?
God of sports, remember the Knicks?