Lakers may be the NBA team that it's easiest to root for, but ...
It may not always feel this way in Los Angeles -- what with the disappointment about the an early playoff exit in 2011, the hand-wringing over the hiring of Mike Brown and questions about whether the team can return to championship level -- but based on a statistical analysis from The Business Journals website, the Lakers are the NBA team that it's easiest to root for.
Usually you can feel confident that your plans in mid-June will involve watching the Lakers win an NBA title and then attending their championship parade. You know there will always be vibrant and talented personalities on the team leaving you in awe. And you know you can pretty much find anyone on the street to strike up a conversation about the Lakers.
After all, the team boasts 16 NBA championships, 23 Hall of Famers and an estimated value, according to Forbes, of $643 million. It's a much more pleasant experience following such a team than, say, the Clippers, who, unsurprisingly, have been considered the hardest team to root for, what with Donald Sterling's middling ways, the untimely injuries and an inability to keep talent.
As I've learned in moderating this blog for the last 18 months, however, it doesn't always seem as though Lakers fans are having a joyful time following the team. No doubt fans wake up every day eager to witness and/or talk about another Lakers victory. But even when the Lakers were winning, plenty of the commentary centered on subplots rather than the big picture. Some of these topics included Andrew Bynum's constant injuries, the question of whether Bynum and Pau Gasol can truly coexist, the debate about Kobe Bryant's shot selection, Lamar Odom's previous inconsistency, concerns about why the bench can't secure double-digit victories, and, of course, Luke Walton's contract. No doubt, these story lines contribute to the larger picture in the team's quest for a title. But it's almost a given that the Lakers win a championship -- hence, there's more debate on some of the smaller issues.
So, yes, it is usually easy to be a Lakers fan even if the team underachieved this season. But that doesn't mean it's any less nerve-wracking. After all, I once asked a few of the Lakers faithful, restless over last year's boring offseason, why they were complaining when their favorite team had just come off an NBA championship run. Their response: That's the art of being a Lakers fan: never feeling happy even when they should.
-- Mark Medina
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Kobe Bryant waves to fans lining Figueroa Street during the Lakers victory parade after winning the 2010 NBA championship. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times