The defense was porous. The offense came and went. It takes work.
The injuries were critical. The depth: non-existent. A little luck.
They couldn’t close games out. The bench vanished on the road. It comes with experience.
There are the optimistic (perhaps perceptive) hordes – in both fandom and the media alike – that will say that this year was a bonus. That this year will be the beginning of something special. It’s easy to forget that Gasol has been a Laker for all of four months. That Ariza was one for two before he went down. That Farmar finished just his second year. Everybody knows that Bynum lurks. Next year – that was our time. This year? The cherry on top. I’ve been guilty of the thought myself. I suspect I’ll fall on that crutch in the months to come.
Yet, if there’s anything the last four years have shown, it’s the fragility of the whole thing. LeBron supposedly had made the leap. Now where is he? Dallas was two wins away from the title. Two years later, they’re in shambles. Phoenix curses its bad breaks – a hipcheck, an injury or two. They were sent packing, completely out of sorts. For the storied franchise I call my own, it’s back to the cusp. But what if Boozer hadn’t shrunk from the spotlight? If Ginobili wasn’t hobbled? If we had faced Hornets or Suns teams that could have exploited our lack of size or toughness earlier on?
When it comes down to it, championship teams don’t lose by 40 on the road. Championship teams don’t blow 24 point leads. Will this ever become a championship team? There are a ton of factors involved. All I know is, that window of opportunity can be pretty fickle. Dynasties – both real and would-be – fall by the wayside in the blink of an eye. And ‘what might be’ never develops, never becomes anything beyond ‘what might have been.’ Just consider what happened last time. Four years. It seems a lifetime ago.