On Tap: This Is The End, My Friends

 —  April 20, 2005

This has been a hard season to be a Laker fan. A hard season to watch if you love basketball.

Back in October we entered the season with muted expectations after the trade of Shaq, but this was not a team without talent. I thought — we all thought — that as the season wore on this team would get more used to each other’s games, more used to what Rudy T. wanted as a coach and by the end of the season we would be above .500, in the playoffs somewhere and we would have an idea of how to build for the future.

Tonight is the last game of the season and those ideas — and that plan for the future — have been obliterated. The rest of the league (and countless fans, media members and bloggers) have reveled in our fall and offered a swift kick on the way down. Tonight we play a poor Portland team that can we relate to — we are both without a coach for next year, with a talented but underachieving rosters, and apparently without blueprints for making things better.

I’ll watch tonight’s game hoping that the team that apparently has given up can find a little effort, give us something to hang our hat on heading into the off-season. What has been the most frustrating thing about this season were the flashes — flashes of team defense (they were rare), flashes of offensive cohesion, flashes of the team we thought we’d have. I’d love to see one of those flashes tonight.

But what I expect to see tonight is what I have seen (and not seen) all season — a lack of interest on defense, no Vlade (due to the suspension this time), Kobe being given the ball with six seconds on the 24 and told to get the shot off by himself, Chucky Atkins being Chucky Atkins, and a substitution pattern that will be bewildering.

All I can hope is that we see some progress tonight. And this off-season.

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While tonight is the end of the Lakers’ season, it is far from the end of this blog. I started this less than six months ago and already we are past 12,000 total hits (and that was after a first month where nobody came) and readership is growing despite the Lakers demise. Thank you all for taking the time to come here — and especially all of your comments. This site has a core of great and intelligent commenters that I sincerely enjoy and hope will expand over the summer and into next season.

This should be an interesting summer — a new coach, the draft, the Long Beach Summer Pro League (which I will be at a fair amount of), and plenty of roster changes. We’ll be watching and talking playoffs at this site too, because we are basketball fans not just Laker fans. Thanks again — you have made this fun for me and I look forward to the wild ride ahead.