The Jell-O’s jiggling for the Lakers
SACRAMENTO, California—Pick your own Los Angeles Lakers championship era: Magic-Kareem in 1980-1988, Kobe-Shaq in 2000, 2001 and 2002 or Kobe-Pau in 2009 and 2010.
Those years were glorious seasons galore for the Lakers’ legions worldwide, Filipinos included.When the yellow-and-purple crew strung up games and NBA trophies, think of legendary announcer Chick Hearn’s memorable refrain for the team’s victims:
“The game’s in the refrigerator: The door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O’s jiggling.”
Past forward to 2014.
The front office in El Segundo is constantly under siege by an antsy fan base for its poor choice of a coach and underwhelming draft picks and trades.
As I write this, the Lakers are at 22 wins and 44 losses. They are a shadow of their former selves and edging closer to their lowest winning percentage since the franchise moved from Minneapolis in 1960.
Worse, Phil Jackson, who was not rehired as coach in 2012 and bypassed for the management team the same year, has accepted the job of president of the New York Knicks.
According to the Los Angeles Times, bringing Jackson upstairs with his 11 NBA titles (five with the Lakers) “would have provided an assurance that the Lakers are doing everything they can to return to their championship ways.”
The late great Mr. Hearn must be cringing in his grave. The requiem for his team’s opponents is raking the team itself.
And borrowing from Chick’s treasury of descriptive basketball lingo, the present-day Lakers “can’t throw a pea in the ocean.” (Can’t shoot) They can’t “guard a suitcase in a train station.” (No defense).
Meantime, the team’s poor cousins and constant casualties, the Los Angeles Clippers, are not so poor any longer. They are on top of the Pacific Conference and poised to get into the playoffs, their eighth since 2006.
In the latest battle for the hearts and minds of LA recently, the Clippers beat their co-tenants at Staples Center by 48 points, 142-94, under a piercing spotlight that showed how the two teams have reversed roles in recent times.
The Clippers have 48 wins in 69 games currently this season, only two or three games back of the best record in the league.
* * *
The Lakers perished in a crash when the team cut its “mystical” ties with Jackson, says Miramon Nuevo, the enterprising Southland-based sports columnist-reporter for Manila’s Tribune newspaper.
“The purple-and-yellow paint on the road is peeling off to give way to the red-white-and-blue hue (of the Clippers).
Los Angeles had a “wholesale system dysfunction, from management to coaching staff to the players’ roster,” says one of my bosom buddies, retired PNP general Cris Maralit, a former sportswriter who now calls Maryland home.
“I’m particularly concerned about the coaching issue. Mike D’Antoni simply is not a good fit for the brand of play the Lakers have been accustomed for years,” according to Cris in an e-mail.
There’s no need to analyze the LA pro basketball scene to death, says veteran newsman Mike Genovea, now a resident of San Bernardino, California.
“Sabi nga nila, weather weather lang ’yan,” says Mike, a former Philippine Sportswriters Association president, while milking the phrase that refers to the ups and downs in the life of a politician back home.
“This time it is spring time for the Clippers.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.