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RIP Lakers: October 26, 2010 - May 8, 2011

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I am here to mourn the Lakers. I think my laughing fit has sufficiently died down so I won’t appear to be too insensitive to the Laker organization and its fans.

The epic Wagnerian meltdown of the Lakers is quite impressive. Back on June 17, 2008 it was 131-92 against the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. On Sunday: 122-86 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks.

We saw images of a rather quiet Dallas owner Mark Cuban in that styling more befitting of someone much younger smugly smiling while his team just rained down three after three. There was Lamar Odom’s blindside shove of Dirk Nowitzki that got him ejected. Then there was this:

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Amidst Mike Tirico’s finger wagging pontification is lost the fact that JJ Barea actually made the shot.

The Lakers could not guard the three point line or the pick-and-roll. For the first time in years the Lakers looked confused. They are perhaps the only team that can appear old and slow while also seeming childish. Now that takes talent.

This demise should not have come as a surprise. There were plenty of warning signs: the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers right before the All Star Break screams the loudest of all the signs.

But all season it appeared that other teams have caught up to the Lakers. Whereas in the past several seasons it was just the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and a bunch of speed bumps, this season changed.
The Mavericks tweaked the team bit by bit and got the formula right. The San Antonio Spurs seemed revived until age slapped them in the face in their first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Oklahoma City Thunder got the extra piece in the paint to become a legitimate contender.

The Lakers failed to send their presumed-to-be-retiring head coach Phil Jackson out a winner. This is a head coach who in 20 seasons never missed the playoffs much less have a losing season. While he will be derided as a head coach who only coached teams filled with stars, remember when Smush Parker was his starting point guard? Even that team made the playoffs.

So here they are. They will have to hire a new head coach, and with that comes a change in philosophy on the floor. Do the Lakers have the players to execute this new philosophy? Will the extra rest this season revive their tired legs?

Not since Shaquille O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat prior to the 2004-’05 season has there been so much unease surrounding the team and its fans.

This leaves one remaining question. With the Lakers done and Andre Ethier’s 30-game hit streak done with, are the Angels the only good thing going in Southern California sports?