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Potholes on the road to a repeat: Regarding complacency

September 28, 2009 |  4:55 pm


Let's be honest- The Lakers aren't exactly covered in question marks like something out of Frank Gorshin's closet. That doesn't mean there isn't anything to talk about. (Thankfully, because otherwise we'd be out of a job.) Winning a title is hard. Winning consecutive Larry O's is like trying to find an occasion to wear something from Frank Gorshin's closet on any of the 364 days of the year that aren't Halloween. Pretty brutal. So as the regular season approaches, we'll take a look at some of the bigger issues that loom over the journey ahead.

Starting... now:

The Concern: Complacency settles in once teams win a title.

No question, there is a difference between chasing a title and defending one. Technically speaking, like successive rolls of the dice, the run to last year's title and the chase for this one are independent events. Each season is its own unique universe, like a scene inside a hardwood snow globe. In real world terms, that's not always how things work. It's human nature to allow the past to impact the present, and last year's championship is unavoidably part of the context surrounding this season. It's easy to relax, to lose some of the focus required to re-reach the mountaintop, or worse, as Derek Fisher notes in our conversation with him last week, to assume you've got the whole thing figured out.

Even if complacency isn't the issue, most of us recognize that "What now?" feeling after accomplishing a long sought goal. It's easy to lose a little direction. It's hard to recharge and do the work required after getting to the top. Fortunately, sports aren't the real world (in more ways than one). Every season provides its own concrete, easily defined target- a championship, and the history/jewelry that comes with it.

More importantly, the Lakers feature Kobe Bryant, at worst tied year in and year out for the league's MCP (Most Competitive Player) award, highly skilled at kicking slackers in the ass. Fisher is a monument to discipline and leadership. Phil Jackson specializes in multi-title runs. Ron Artest wants a ring like a Tigger Pooh wants honey.** Strong management guarantees those who put themselves ahead of the team won't be on the team very long. And so on. These are highly motivated individuals who understand how their legacies as individuals are enhanced by the achievements of their team.* 

In short, call me naive if you will, but I don't think complacency a problem. Discuss.

Worry Level: Low


*I consider concerns about PT, rotations, and guys "wanting theirs" to be something separate from the idea of complacency, but definitely an idea we'll touch on en route to opening night. 

**Regarding the Tigger/Pooh flub, I was thinking of that story of how Tigger kept insisting how much Tigger's love honey, among other things, but of course then it turns out he hates the stuff. Totally forgot that part. Pooh was indeed the proper reference. My apologies to A.A. Milne.