Once again Phil Jackson speaks to the media - was it an honest opinion of the Laker’s chances this year of reaching the 50-win mark or another one of his mind-games used to motivate a team that looks ready to take it to the next level one day - and a little less so another.
Firstly are 50 wins really out of reach for our young ball-squad? The evidence at the moment says it’s marginal at 1/3 through the season. We’ve managed to replicate a few of our injury woes from last year, but if Lamar can continue to work his way back to full fitness and Kwame can come back as effective (at least at one end of the court that is) then we’ll be sitting in a position where 50 wins is a distinct possibility. What about if our injury woes continue - or deepend, then what? What if Kobe gets injured - or Bynum? I don’t really believe this was in Phil’s mind-set - he was looking at the current progress and seeing how we stand and where we’ve grown and where we should have grown but haven’t yet.
He’s got to like what’s happening at the point - there’s clear evidence of pushing up from Crit to Farmar to Derek - that can only be a good thing and a distinct improvement on last year when Farmar took over the reigns by default rather than because he truly deserved to be a starting point guard on a playoff bound team. He must like Kobe’s play this year - better defensively and no loss of intensity. It can’t be a cheap shot at Lamar - he’s working himself back in and you know he’ll get better and contribute more as he does (yes, I know some of you completely disagree on this point, although that’s the beauty of a blog - I get to voice my opinion!). Bynum is doing what we know he can - more importantly he’s doing it consistently (no, not the 20pt outburst but the double-double).
No, I think this is pure classic Phil reverse psychology. The Lakers have been a little inconsistent, but far from disappointing to anyone other than their fans. A couple of losses last week may have caused a different comment, but the Lakers are about where they want to be.. maybe a shade ahead even given the early schedule.
So what Phil’s really saying here is, we’re doing okay and headed about here (close to 50 win mark). If you guys go the extra mile and really put into the games what I know you can do we’ll be above this spot. It’s perhaps more importantly a no-lose comment. If the Lakers win 45 games and limp in to the playoffs again, Phil looks like he knew what he was talking about, should we pick up and surpass 50 wins it was a great motivational outlet that spurred us on.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here, the biggest drop off last year wasn’t injuries, it was all the trade hype that had us believing that ageless Kidd was going to be wearing the purple and gold. That kind of ‘loss’ depletes a team.. just ask Chicago why it’s started so bad this year.
For my part I think the 50 win mark is a key barrier in a team moving from the also-ran to the contender slot. Teams with 50 wins can win it all - teams without, well, they can cause an upset or two but can they really go all the way.. history would suggest not (go on, someone prove me wrong here and dig out some NBA champ example!).
So can the Lakers get 50 wins? Easily - 53-55 is attainable I think. But that’s not really the question, the question is will they? And isn’t that the question! All I know is that as a Laker fan my perception is somewhat tainted by my affiliation to the team, but I believe we can get 50, hell, I think we will get 50 (yes, yes, label me an eternal optimist) and the point here is that we SHOULD get 50, we’re good enough and we need to believe it. And there you have it.. that’s why Phil said we can’t, because the correct response to that by a young group of players is to turn that into belief that we will.
Here’s to a 50 win season!
..with the sharpness..