The sky is falling in southern California! The Los Angeles Lakers started the 2012-13 NBA season with three straight losses! Disaster is nigh! It’s the end of the world as we know it!
Almost as comically over-reactive as Mitt Romney supporters bemoaning the reelection of President Barack Obama is the widespread panic among Lakers fans regarding the 0-3 start to the 82-game season.
Kobe Bryant is banged up. Steve Nash is out for a week or two. Dwight Howard’s off to a hit-and-miss start. The team’s defense has been soft, the Princeton offense has had its issues, and the Lakers are turning the ball over more often than Michael Vick.
Before we stick a fork in the Lakers and call them done, however, those who favor the purple and gold need to take a deep breath and relax.
First of all, L.A. finally got into the win column by bashing the Detroit Pistons over the weekend, so the losing streak is done. Up next are the Utah Jazz, who are also 1-3, followed by home games against Golden State (2-2) and Sacramento (1-3). That’s not exactly “Mission: Impossible.”
Second, the Lakers are only a game out of first place in their division with 79 to go. Odds are pretty good that they can gain a game or two on the Warriors and Clippers over the next five months.
Third, this is a “super team.” “Super teams” take time to gel. Throw a bunch of guys on the court who aren’t used to working together, and it’s not always smooth at first. In time, their talent will overcome their unfamiliarity with each other, things will start working better on both sides of the ball, and the wins will start piling up—leading everyone else in the world to hate the Lakers, of course, but that’s just one of the perils of having a “super team.”
Finally, remember that this is the NBA we’re talking about here. Almost everyone makes the playoffs in the NBA. Sometimes teams don’t even have to have a winning record to get into the postseason. The Lakers, of course, won’t have to deal with the concept of something other than a winning record in mid-April, but the point is that it’s not terribly difficult to advance out of the regular season.
In the NBA, 0-3 starts aren’t anywhere close to insurmountable. The 1990-91 Chicago Bulls started 0-3 before winning the championship. The Miami Heat suffered through a three-game losing streak early in the 2011-12 season—and another one in the conference finals—but things turned out just fine for them.
The Lakers’ 0-8 preseason record probably just fuels the fire for panicky fans, but the preseason doesn’t matter.
And in the case of this particular team, neither does an 0-3 start.