The star-packed Los Angeles Lakers began 2013 by hosting the 76′ers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. They lost the game 103-99, adding to the shortcomings of the season. See how a guy shares his frustration about the game and the Lakers as he himself starts his new year.
“The Laker Cliff”
The US faced the fiscal cliff at the end of 2012, and every American felt an uneasy paranoia over something they knew little about. That’s why some spent their money on New Year’s Day by visiting The Staples Center when the Lakers hosted the 76’ers. Things also didn’t feel normal, and strange things were happening all over the world. It would have been science fiction to write about the Clippers’ 17 winning-streak as they approached 2013, while the Lakers surfaced just an eyeball above .500. The Clippers were suddenly the triumphant ball-lobbing giraffes of the city looking down on the lowly Lakers, the hippos in water. The story would have seemed as weird as raining dogs. But that was the case.
The Lakers lost their first game of 2013.
They had 3 days off going into it, and they essentially made it 4 with the lazy play on New Year’s, the media later said. They stood around, launched rim-bound shots and were beat 103-99.
After the game, Patrick called ESPN radio to voice disgust with the game. He didn’t get through. He nodded his way through caller opinions as he drove South on the 405.
One caller said Coach Mike D’Antoni had brain problems because he’d been unable to figure it out.
“I don’t understand why he’s benching Metta,” the caller said. “He got fit, was having a great year shooting 3’s, isn’t the problem in the line-up, now gets benched and he’s out of rhythm. He can’t hit a thing. D’Antoni’s also benching our energy in Jordan Hill when he shouldn’t and he’s completely forgotten about Jamison. This guy came in here talking like a can-do cowboy and I don’t see it,” the caller went on. Patrick felt the caller’s anger through the radio.
Another caller said that his New Year’s resolutions were to restrain his judgment of Laker players and coaches. Then he consciously broke his promises and belittled them all on-air. Patrick laughed and agreed.
He couldn’t get his head around the Clippers having more consecutive wins than the Lakers’ total in the season.
“Ridiculous,” he said to himself. Then he pretended to talk to the radio host. “I just want to say that the players are old, uninterested and disbanded,” he said.
He understood Laker expectations were high, but the results had been unacceptably low for their roster.
He was driving home from a sports bar on Wilshire in Korea Town. He’d gone there for the game and became distracted more with the blond bartender who served him, and the group of six awkwardly sitting in the back. They looked like co-workers who had stayed too long past happy hour. He was also distracted by his beer.
The game had bored him with just one look at the screen. He saw that the fans were not standing or cheering in the stadium. The court looked flat. Cardboard cut outs had replaced the players. The referees didn’t want to be there either. The only people who wanted to be there was the audience, and half at that since not all had bought their tickets and at least some went because of obligation or curiosity. And as for the TV and league executives who wanted everyone there, they were skiing somewhere. He thought about the cheerleaders.
Who would’ve thought the New Year’s Day game was going to be boring? People were enjoying the last of their given vacations and ending it with a high at Staples, or so they thought.
At the bar, the blond female waitress had looked just above 30, and had done most of the work. There was a male one too, sharp-looking with long hair and tall build. The only thing he did was check his phone. He didn’t want anyone on his side of the bar, and the Gods conceded his New Year’s wishes right away. Patrick had sat in the middle, and the female bartender had taken him on. Her smile helped her tips, at least with him. When he closed the tab, the male bartender had not realized the game was over.
He left the bar as dissatisfied as those in Staples. He had visited a venue to catch a basketball game, paired it with beer to watch the spectacle, and like those in Staples his eyes had wandered quickly. The only difference was the available distractions Staples had, opposed to the bar.
It was the type of game that made you finally accept the end of holiday vacations. The next day he had to work. It had been a long day, and a quick year. He went straight to sleep when he got home.
* * *
The next day, January 2nd, Patrick returned to work. News radio entertained his morning commute. Apparently Boehner and his fellas had decided to go along with something Barack had said. At work he went through his routine and cleaned his Thermo cup, filled his water bottle, and even flossed. Work quickly started. By mid-day he splashed water on his face in the bathroom. He took off his coat because he first blamed the fatigue on his attire—too comfortable and warm. Then his eyes drooped. He had slept 8 hours the night before and thought it a good rest, and there he was starting 2013 like a Laker. His thoughts bounced off the rim all day, he felt nostalgic about the end of the holidays, and although his mind had its sight on the new year goals, his body was in December. Maybe it was the holiday diet. And the more rest had made everything worse. I work better with 4 or 5 hours of sleep, he kept thinking.
In the afternoon the hypocrisy came. No one recorded him at work. No one drank a beer as they stared at him work. During lunch, his boss didn’t shout an inspirational speech at him, or try to crank him up. He had not been asked to work on New Year’s Day, and still he was time-lagged by holiday celebrations.
He went for a cup of coffee. And in the hallway he saw the Lakers in a new light. Poor guys. Old men like me, he thought.
Even the young Clippers lost on New Year’s day, ending their 17 game winning-streak. Maybe there are no winners on New Year’s Day, just results.
He drank his coffee. By the end of work he had even sympathized with that lazy long-haired bartender.
Published Jan. 7, 2013. Image (c) 2013 NBA Entertainment. Photo by Evan Gole/NBAE/Getty Images.
For your reference, links to the real-life news story that inspired “The Laker Cliff”: Sixers 103, Lakers 99