A week ago the Lakers won their 16th NBA championship. This past Monday was the big parade and now it’s back to the real world. (Ugh.) But first a few final words (actually, 826) about game seven. During 43 of the 48 minutes I was miserable. During the last five I thought I might need a defibrillator. (My friend, Andy, who’s an Indiana Pacers fan, said he would love to be that miserable.)
I started watching the game with friends in the TV room of my apartment building. But I immediately sensed it was going to be too tense for me to just sit. Given that pacing in front of my friends might be slightly embarrassing, I raced to the gym where I could workout while watching. The game was so exasperating that I think I might have burnt out the flywheel on the Exercycle.
Watching the Lakers unravel felt a little like when I lose my keys. I tell myself to relax, but I can’t. When the Lakers got off to such a bad start I told myself it couldn’t get worse. Except that it did.
With keys, after I’ve turned my apartment upside down, I begin to panic. With the Lakers trailing by 13 points in the third quarter, forget panic, I was apoplectic. Put it this way, I’d much rather have lost my keys.
I pedaled in 20-minute increments, which registered 300 calories. I hoped that I’d be able to return to the TV room but as poorly as the Lakers were playing (worst I’ve ever seen them in a finals), I was stuck on the Exercycle.
There I was, cursing at all the missed Laker free throws and Kobe and Pau going a dismal 12 for 40. (“Dismal” is being charitable.) By the final buzzer I had pedaled for 160 minutes and burnt up approximately 2,500 calories. (Afterwards, I ate a box of chocolate chip cookies so, at best, I broke even.)
During timeouts, I questioned how it was that, at my age, the prospect of the Lakers losing game seven could so devastate me. Of course what psychological insights can one expect when watching a commercial featuring animated rapping rats rolling’ through the hood in a new Kia?
I was so focused on the game that people coming and going was all a blur. During the final minutes I looked around and realized that I was alone. It was probably for the best because, given my state, a sane person might have called 911.
After the game, I was exhausted and sore. (You’d think I had played rather than watched.) I washed my hands and face, and put on a clean T-shirt. I then joined my friends in the TV room for the post-game celebration. What I needed was some of the champagne the Lakers were spraying each other with.
When NBA Commissioner David Stern went on and on congratulating the Lakers, I couldn’t help but think that he sounded like my rabbi. I half expected him to end his speech with a hearty “Mazel Tov!” Like I said, I needed some champagne.
I was finally able to relax and savor the victory. But I couldn’t help think that, compared to other sports, the NBA Finals trophy isn’t very impressive. It’s certainly not the size of hockey’s Stanley Cup, which is gigantic. Nor does the “Larry O’Brien Trophy” have the same ring as the NFL’s “Vince Lombardi Trophy.”
When I think of Larry O’Brien I think of Watergate. It was his O’Brien’s Democratic National Committee office that the burglars broke into in 1972. Curiously, it was on June 17, the same date, albeit 38 years later, that the Lakers won this championship. (Where else can you get this kind of useless trivia? And at these prices.)
Speaking of champagne (two paragraphs above) go to YouTube and type “Artest 2010 Press Conference.” Ron Artest, the eccentric forward who saved game seven and the series for the Lakers, was hilarious and refreshingly candid. (Or maybe just drunk.)
Grateful for his successful game, Artest credited God and his female psychiatrist. (Artest’s, not God’s.) Reportedly, Ron-Ron was clubbing in Hollywood into the wee hours of the morning without bodyguards and still wearing his uniform! (Let’s hope he showered first.)
Without the Lakers there’s now a void in my life (joining other voids). Crazily enough, the day after the championship, ESPN radio ran a repeat of the game broadcast. Is that crazy or what? Even crazier, while I was making dinner, I listened. Commentator Mychal Thompson, a former Laker and two-time NBA champion, was so upset he sounded like me on the Exercycle.
Already sports talk radio shows are upsetting me, “Is Phil going to come back?” And they’re already predicting a “Three-peat” for next year. Sure, it sounds great. But, when I reflect back on all the angst of the past 105 games, forget Kobe, I’m the one who needs the off-season to recover.
If Jack isn’t too busy worrying about whether Phil Jackson will coach the Lakers next season, he can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.