LOS ANGELES, CA – Shed a tear for me, dear East Coast reader, I’m t-t-t-typing with ice cold fingers from this frigid cold snap we’re having. It never got above 55 today here in the City of Angels, colder than the Lakers since they brought in D’Antoni.
Everything feels a little off out here lately, what with the Clippers behind only Oklahoma City by a game for the best record in the NBA, and the Lakers caught in a funk of lousy chemistry, odd injuries, and mounting frustration. This has all the looks, sounds, and smells of a full-blown implosion for the Lake Show, the kind that anybody calling itself “The Lake Show” richly deserves. Their hopes have been lowered from championship aspirations to just getting it together in time to still make the playoffs… Laker fans like my friend Gary, a world-weary traveler staying with us while he negotiates a job with Saudi bureaucracy, are spending many nights staring at the ceiling indulging dark thoughts of writing off the season, cleaning house, and starting over.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this but even before the season the on-paper slam-dunk of adding Steve Nash and Dwight Howard did feel more risky than rewardy. So far it’s been all the former. There’s still a smattering of weak “MVP…MVP” chants throughout Staples Center when Kobe Bryant steps to the line in the fourth quarter but they’re subconsciously making room for the image of him in another jersey next year. Still, when any baiting reporter wonders if this has become a Clipper town, Laker fans like Gary bristle and start bringing up championships like Yankee fans end arguments by saying “27.” You see folks, it’s a bitter, bitter cold gripping our city.
But the cold weather is also ushering in… Hockey season! The phrase “better late than never” has never been more sorely tested as it is by Gary Bettman this year, but at least here in Los Angeles there’s gleeful anticipation for unveiling the new championship banner. It took their magical run last year to get me to start following more closely again after the previous strike and the move to Versus, but with my interest level in the final four NFL teams ranging from indifferent to loathing and pitchers and catchers still a month away, the timing’s right for me to start following more closely again. I’m even in a hockey fantasy league this year for the first time…and one look at the draft rankings reveals how deep my naiveté goes, so I call upon the knowledgeable base for any advice.
I learned pretty much everything I know from playing NHL 93, and haven’t really paid attention since Joe Sakic was a young man. So, hello Hockey, you may have lost a huge chunk of your potential fan base these last few months, but as I like to be contrarian, you’ve picked me up. Give me the tour, show me a good time, I’m available and I put out.
Angry Ward, tomorrow.