How bad? Well, as of Monday, they’re tied with the lowly Sacramento Kings for last place in their division, with a 20-39 record. They’re not even the best team in their own city, and frankly haven’t been for a few years. No, that distinction goes to their Staples Center roommates, former league cellar dwellers the Los Angeles Clippers.
Injuries abound, most notably to star players Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. One night last month, things got so bad they were able to dress only eight healthy players, and further injuries and foul trouble reduced them to five. The Lakers still won, but we guess it’s hard to get too excited about a victory over the Cavaliers:
What the Lakers’ bench looked like during their rousing win over the Cavaliers last month
Let’s be honest: If you’re a fan of any team not named the Lakers, you’re probably not crying too hard for them. But if you’re actively enjoying their misery? Well, you might wanna think twice before you rile up Bryant himself, one of the game’s all-time fiercest competitors:
"This year, we all know it’s been a real tough year for us, right? So what I’d like everybody to do is to really just sit back and just absorb this year. Take it all in. Sit back and watch and listen and hear all the hate that’s being thrown at us and remember every person that’s kicking you when you’re down, because next year it ain’t gonna be this way. Appreciate it now. Let it sit in now, because revenge is sweet and it’s quick. …
"You’ve got to appreciate that and enjoy that and use that as fuel as motivation to basically just shut everybody the hell up. It’s that challenge, that challenge that drives us all, I think, and definitely keeps me going."
Tough talk from Bryant, whose killer instinct and passion for competition are unrivaled in the league.
Remember every person that’s kicking you when you’re down, because next year it ain’t gonna be this way. Appreciate it now. Let it sit in now, because revenge is sweet and it’s quick.
Kobe Bryant, per Power 106 and LakersNation.com
Yet it’s unclear how the Lakers plan to carry out this revenge plot anytime soon. The league — and the West in particular — is filled with talented (and younger) squads, and the Lakers aren’t going to have much to choose from in the free-agent market in the immediate term.
This season is obviously a loss, but most of the team’s success or failure going forward will depend on how soon Bryant himself can get back on the court and, when he does return, how much he will resemble that guy with ice water in his veins.
With his recent $48 million contract extension, Kobe’s fate and that of his team are entwined. Both will need some serious help if the Lakers hope to surge back into contention before Bryant’s playing days are over.