The day I can’t be excited about the Lakers winning a game on a buzzer beater is the day I no longer want to be fan.
There’s been a lot of debate about the Lakers winning games lately. D’Angelo Russell’s shot in the clip above gave the Lakers their 4th straight win in this final stretch of the season. That’s not just the team’s longest win streak this year, it’s their longest winning streak in 4 years. Think about that. This team has been so bad they haven’t been able to win this many games in a row since the season Kobe tore his achilles. Now they’re winning and I’m supposed to…be mad? Nah.
I don’t want to get into the lottery odds. I’ve covered that ad nauseam since the team started winning games a week ago. I also think discussing those things are, for lack of a better word, stupid. Everyone single fan of the team wants the Lakers to keep their pick. Every. Single. One. So, what fans are actually arguing about is having an 8.9% better statistical chance of that happening. Do those percentage points matter? Of course they do. But if they got those percentage points back on their side of the ledger would it somehow guarantee the team kept their pick? Of course not.
It’s a lottery. And the odds are what they are. If team keeps their pick, I’ll rejoice. If they lose it, I’ll get bummed.
But, guess what, whichever way it goes is not going to affect how I feel about the team or how I root for them. I’ll love them either way. Further, if they do lose the pick, I’ll accept it for what it actually is: the penance paid for past trades made. These picks are owed. The Lakers traded them. Losing this pick, in a year the team has been bad, would hurt severely. And I’ll feel that pain. After that, though, I’ll just go back to being a fan who runs this site and provides the best analysis I can. Because as someone whose lived a certain amount of life and had truly important things not go my way, I’ve realized the world doesn’t stop spinning because I did not get what I wanted.
Which leads me back to Russell. After his teammates surrounded him to congratulate him on his game winning shot, he sprinted to the stands to embrace his family. At first, it looked quite similar to what he did after hitting a buzzer beater in Las Vegas during summer league last July. And some might have taken that the wrong way.
It was only in his post-game interview, though, that we learned it was more than him wanting to rejoice with his brothers who were sitting in the stands. We learned that Russell had lost his Grandmother on Sunday morning. That he contemplated flying back to Louisville to be with family, not going to work to play a basketball game. We learned the heaviness he was carrying.
And we empathized. Which is human and I understand that too. As someone who lost my father not even 8 months ago, I can guess at how Russell is feeling. And I know, too, that a good day at work or you doing something which makes other people happy doesn’t necessarily change whatever you feel. That’s how this goes. And I accept that because sometimes you don’t have choices.
The day I can’t be excited about the Lakers winning a game on a buzzer beater is the day I no longer want to be fan. Sometimes life has a way of giving you perspective. You realize that some things matter and some things really matter. I won’t dare tell you which is what for you. But I know what it is for me. And I’m going to enjoy the hell out of that shot and these kids playing well more than I will those 8.9% odds.