Lakers Fans, Be Grateful
Lakers rookie guard Von Wafer has played eleven minutes in his NBA career. Six of them came Wednesday night against Toronto, in what was a typical, monumentally soul sucking Raptors game. I wonder how many of the NBA's Von Wafers- guys who have never actually game tested the tear away quality of their tear away warm ups- notch their big minute nights (and highlight reel plays- hello Von Wafer thunder dunk!) against the pillow soft, Division III Raptors. Check the standings, and you'll note that Toronto has won a grand total of three games.
To paraphrase Bull Durham, "How the hell did they ever win three?"
The Raptors are a great reminder to Lakers fans: Be grateful, because while 9-9 may seem bad, things can always be much, much worse. As I watched Luke Walton lead the L.A.'s 2nd unit like the Globetrotters through the Washington Generals, I tried to figure it out. Why are the Raptors so bad? (Yes, the Lakers have won three in a row, and the offense has started to come around in the last 5-7 games, but c'mon, the Lakers without Kobe, Odom, or Parker on the floor shouldn't dominate any team that doesn't play most of their games at the rec.)
Is it because they give up an NBA 2nd-to-worst 103.6 points a game? That doesn't help. Because they shoot a miserable .318 from beyond the arc (not that it stopped Mike James from hucking up brick after brick last night)? Can't be a good thing. That their best player (Chris Bosh) certainly won't be there for the long haul, or their best vet (Jalen Rose) plays each minute in Toronto with the enthusiasm of Steven Wright on cold medicine? That they have no alternative but to sometimes put Rafael Araujo on the floor? Those aren't positive factors either.
No, the real reason the Raptors suck can be summed up with the picture below:
I don't care if those fans are smiling. No team can possibly expect to be good with this sort of thing roaming the sidelines. The mascot is made of plastic, for freakin' sake. I saw it during the broadcast Wednesday, and whenever that thing was on camera, I nearly jumped out of my chair. I'm pretty sure if it was put to sleep/deflated, Toronto would win 9 in a row.
I've often wondered why the Lakers don't have a mascot. Some fun thing like the Phoenix Gorilla or the NO/OKC Hornet running around, doing wacky stuff. Now I know why. Really classic teams don't need them. The Yankees don't have a chicken running around like an insane freak on the dugouts (they just have one running around upstairs). Neither do the Red Sox or the Celtics. The Knicks don't even have one, and they need any distraction possible to keep people from watching the court.
Didn't the Dodgers try to introduce a mascot a few years ago? If I remember correctly, that wasn't a hit. Fans nearly burned down the stadium. So fill me in. I'm a midwestern boy, not as steeped in Lakers history as some of you. Have they ever tried the mascot thing? Would any of you want one? Some furry creature rubbing Jack's head playfully behind the visitors bench? What would it look like? Is there any demand? Is it possible to create one that would work for the Lakers?
Just promise me it wouldn't be plastic.