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Where Have You Gone Ced Ceballos?

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It’s not even worth bringing up his name anymore. The story got old about two seconds after hit the air the first time, and about four weeks before all of this ridiculous war of words, MySpace baiting, YouTube disparaging business became headline news. Trade him. Don’t trade him. Whatever.

All I know is that I miss the old Lakers.

I’m not talking about the Showtime Lakers of the 80s (though those were some of the most spectacular teams of all-time) or even the Big Aristotle-centric Lakers that dominated just a few years ago. I’m talking about the post-Magic (I’ll pretend like his “comeback” didn’t actually happen), pre-Shaq Lakers. The Ced Ceballos leaner in the lane Lakers. The George Lynch dive after loose balls Lakers. The Eddie Jones blow-by for a throwdown Lakers. The Vlade flop when it was still cool Lakers.

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I miss cheering for likable players that had some game. I miss following a team that was enjoyable to watch on the court together, rather than a disjointed one-man gang and his lackeys. I miss watching a young team full of promise, though still flawed and vulnerable, hungry to prove themselves rather than coming in with a sense of entitlement. I miss having a front office not satisfied with mediocrity but actively putting together a roster to achieve success in the short-term and the long-term instead of expecting fans to patiently wait for “a few years” to get the ship turned around.

Not that those teams weren’t without faults. You had talented but mercurial Nick Van Exel taking a swing at ref Ron Garretson and going at it with coach Del Harris. There was also the frustrating Elden Campbell, at times an unstoppable force in the low post, but possessing the focus of a St. Bernard puppy chasing its tail. And they lacked some of the personality and charisma of other Laker teams that we hold dear to our hearts. But with those mid 90s teams, you could focus on solely basketball, rather than the drama surrounding the team, even if the basketball was only good enough for 45-50 wins and an early playoff exit. They were teams worth supporting. For those of us that love the sport as much as we love the Lakers, rooting for this current Lakers team is becoming about as fun as going to the dentist.