Mike D'Antoni hesitated to say that the Los Angeles Lakers had hit rock bottom in the past, but he would likely find it hard to argue against that point after Friday's crushing loss to the Clippers
After watching the Los Angeles Lakers lose by 40 to the Clippers, I decided I needed a drink. I’m sure I was not the only person who attended that game that thought about having a cocktail after. I’d written an article for the game, so I opted for a drink away from Staples Center, downtown Los Angeles and the sports media.
This loss needed to settle. I needed to go to a place and allow the loss to exist outside of the Staples Center statistics, keyboards and basketball minds.
So, I went to a bar in Santa Monica where men were on dates with women, and groups of men and women were engaged in the art of drinking, mingling and drowning in loud music.
The Lakers died on Friday night, and now, it was early Saturday morning.
The season was over. Not actually, but the final straw had been broken. Losing nine of ten games was bad enough, but the 10th loss in 11 games finished the job. This, finally, was rock bottom.
On Friday night, the Lakers trailed by as many as 43 points to the Clippers. They were dunked on with such authority that every player in the locker room wore a black eye. The Lakers were publicly shamed in their home city.
For any Lakers fan that claimed no rivalry existed between the Lakers and Clippers, the inability to turn the channel was a harsh reminder that those empty words meant little in the face of emotion and embarrassment.
This was a rivalry game, and the Lakers were handed a historic beat down.
Before the game, a LA Clippers reporter attempting to be friendly said to a colleague and me, “nowhere but up to go from here.”
I made a point to disagree with her before my colleague jumped in and said he was not affected by whether the team won or lost. He just wanted to watch good basketball. One would find it hard to argue against him after watching the Lakers lose by 40. Final difference was 36, but that felt like a 40-point loss.
Pessimistic as it may have sounded, I said the Lakers had still not yet hit rock bottom.
The schedule called for seven of the next eight games to be on the road. The Grammy Awards were set to open up shop at Staples Center, and the Lakers would hit the road for a losing stretch that would have to continue due to injured bodies, a team of leftovers and no sign of defense. Defense was so long gone that no one on the team even remembered what it looked like.
Then, the game was played.
The Lakers were captured, castrated and set on a catapult. Currently, they’re on their backs in a forest attempting to make sense of the broken branches and broken bones.
This is rock bottom.
The Lakers will lose again, and they will be humiliated again—soon probably. However, the manner in which they were stripped naked and beaten was a low point that likely will not be repeated.
Even more painful, the comprehensive beat down took place in their home arena and in front of the home media. After the loss, the Lakers entered their home locker room and spoke to an assembly of Los Angeles reporters.
“I don’t think there was one positive thing we can take from this game,” Kendall Marshall started out. “We were competitive for maybe five minutes. We just can’t have that. It has nothing to do with talent. It has nothing to do with who’s injured. We just have to go out there and compete. There’s no team in this league that’s 40, 50 points better than anybody else. That’s on us.”
This is what rock bottom sounds like.
“To lose like that, that’s embarrassing,” Nick Young looked as upset as he ever has since joining the Lakers.
Young was asked about his sore back and responded with emotion: “I’m so mad right now. I don’t even care about that. I’m ready for the next game.”
The Lakers finally hit rock bottom, and it looked and sounded like it hurt.