So I've been thinking about it, and the Lakers' 2009 title is a great example of the ultimate futility of fandom. I haven't been happy with the Lakers until two days ago. Until winning the championship, I was never really satisfied with their performance, and nonfactors like midseason losses to Oklahoma City just made me angry. As I sit here today, I'm finally satisfied with the team.
It's creepy. The only way I don't feel massive disappointment with a team is by their winning the championship. And that's a little crazy. The jubilation you'd expect to come with a Finals win isn't really there...it's more of a calm satisfaction.
A heartbreaking loss always hurts worse than a miraculous win feels good.
With that said, that satisfaction I feel is a pretty enjoyable feeling by itself. Watching idiot bandwagoners in Rajon Rondo shirts stare at the ground when I walk by in a Kobe jersey is downright fun, as is the sudden silence of the thousands of Lakers haters who must now find new material with which to bash the Lakers and Bryant. Red Auerbach's annoying legacy has been surpassed by less-annoying Phil Jackson, LeBron James is doing 2010 bicep curls, and Dwight Howard has acquired a new nickname..."Nick Anderson." And I think, ultimately, this is what I'm enjoying most. Fandom is a combination of faith, love, and rivalry, and winning a title does a lot for the faith and rivalry aspects.
I think something really needs to be said about free throws. I've said it before and I'll continue saying it until NBA players learn to stop being stubborn idiots and decide to help their teams. In the only game of the Finals that really mattered (that would be Game 4, duh), the Magic shot 59.5% from the free throw line. Howard went a pathetic 6 of 14. Turkoglu went 8 of 13. That's 13 missed points from a spot on the floor where most jumpshooters shoot 60%. In other words, Orlando shot a lower percentage on uncontested straight-on shots than they would have with JJ Redick shooting jumpers from the same spot on the floor.
Despite this, Dwight Howard doesn't want to use the backboard? He trades a 2-2 series tie and embarrassing banked free throws for a 3-1 series deficit and the pride that comes with missing your free throws like a man.
This is not a player I want on my team.
Make your free throws however you can. Particularly for someone like Howard who's going to get clobbered routinely, use the damn backboard. It's there for a reason. When you're that tall, let gravity help.
Any NBA player who shoots less than 75% from the free throw line is selfish. It's that simple.
Angels 9, San Francisco 7
I understand now why people think the Dodgers are good. The NL West is unbelievably bad.
Coming off a three game series sweep of the Padres, the Angels again found power in their wimpy lineup, with Aybar, Abreu, Rivera, and recent callup Sean Rodriguez all hitting balls over the fence. Torii Hunter continued his torrid streak with the bat, but managed to hurt himself running into a wall with an 8-0 lead. Whoops.
X-rays were negative, and Hunter hopes to return Friday against the Dodgers. Frankly, the Angels are nowhere this season without Hunter. They are, shockingly, just 2 games out of first. Interleague is hilarious.
Oh yeah, the game wasn't as close as the final score indicates. John Lackey went 7 innings with 10 strikeouts, giving up 3 runs on 10 hits. Yes, that's a weird linescore. The Arson Crew gave up 4 runs, 3 of those coming on a ninth inning two-on, two-out blast by Pablo Sandoval off Kevin "DFA" Jepsen.
Jepsen, along with Shields, and, to some extent, Abreu, all lost big by playing in the WBC. Never again.
Lackey also got the first hit of his career, which included a little RBI next to it. He's now 1-27 lifetime.
Tonight sees yet another starting pitcher for the Halos, with Sean O'Sullivan taking the hill in place of an injured Ervin Santana. Hate to say I told you so, but Santana is unlikely to be okay unless he gets TJ surgery. Escobar is also back on the DL. Shocking.
Game's at 7 Pacific.
- Not much here today, just a better picture of Thiessen with the Cup.