Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Loser's Metamorphosis

To the tune of Kafka's masterpiece, a Laker devotee undergoes a critical change.

As Shaun awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a loser fanatic. He was lying on his hard, mangled cot, unfurling his frame from underneath the slanted roof of his attic apartment in Santa Monica. His numerous Laker posters, ordered just after the Three-Peat, and which made up all of this 8 by 12 foot room’s decor, had only strange faces, in now unfamiliar colors.

Who are these players? he asked. It was no dream. His room, a regular bachelor flat, only it was double the rent, and half the size because it was Venice adjacent, lay quiet between the four familiar walls. Above the folding bed on which a hot plate was rested — Shaun was a consummate gourmand — hung the Jordan/Bryant head-to-head picture, which he had recently printed from a website and added to his basketball bookmarks. It showed Kobe Bean and MJ, with a measuring tape and the Larry O’Brien trophy between them, sitting upright and holding out their fists, huge ring-adorned knuckles, into which their whole team logos had vanished! Although when Shaun's eyes turned to Grantland and Deadspin — all he heard were bloggers clamoring over LA’s locker room melodrama on their podcasts, calling Dwight foul names — and it was depressing. How ‘bout watching Netflix for a while and forgetting all this nonsense, he thought, but it couldn’t happen, for he craved mocking Warrior fans, and Clipper fans, and perhaps, most desperate of all, Kings fans. But with Showtime losing every game, he could not troll their forums with snarky Zen Master quotes, and worse, they were mocking him.

Oh God, he thought, what an incorrigible team I love! Steve Nash stars in “The 40-Year-Old Point Guard”, this summer in 2-D color. Get Paul Rudd to play his lovable, elbowing sidekick Metta World Peace. In a humorously misguided comedy of errors. A gun-slingin’ duo traveling about, home game to road game, on a used bicycle gear and too little cartilage. Dear God. For the first time, he was hosting live chats for a losing team, and on top of that there was the constant stream of thrilled haters, the Chris Paul Jerseys from Pico to Ventura, the ESPN coverage, the casual Laker fans that were always “so hip” and sitting courtside. Conference Finals be damned! We are looking at an 8-seed, dude, honestly. He felt a slight urge to text White Sean, the Celtic fan who lived down the street; he could always lean on him for support; to identify that gut-wrenching feeling which was something he imagined must be common to Blazer fans, or New Yorkers: gross discontent. Two coaches in one season, neither of them good, and he could no longer understand why management was tampering with a tried-true formula, and so stopped supporting the mysterious rationale, instead surrendering to haters’ points immediately, because pretending he understood what was happening made a cold shiver run through him.

He clicked again into his Facebook page. This newsfeed, oh my god, can’t even deal. Every other article, Bryant frustrated, Nash injured, Howard tall. A man needs his Kobe-Bryant-Best-Ever-blog-post on occasion -- at least weekly. ‘Um, would you pass if you were that good??’ he fumed. For instance, when he checked his inbox after losses, everyone’s all ‘Y IS MIKE D’AnPHONY RUINING LAKERLAND’ and he's all: ‘Dude, how the EFF should I know? I don’t run a franchise, and by the looks of your ALL CAPS approach, neither should you’. But he did add, as an aside, that he'd be an excellent General Manager. Anyway, that might be a fun few weeks, yea/no? If he didn't have to cease contact with Laker staff because of the Buss surveillance “incident”, he'd have figured out and sent some solutions long ago; he'd have gone to Mitch Kupchak and told him exactly what he thought of him. The shock would knock his snifter off his desk! It's a bizarre way to build a championship team, too, this trading for old stars and circus-act centers, especially when they don’t do the whole winning part. Well, there's still hope, he thought; once we've gotten all these players off the books, and saved enough luxury tax money to start drafting young again-we'll be back on top. Just need to find that magical, once-a-generation 13th pick.