Thursday, May 26, 2005

AbbaGav is Building Character 

The NBA held its Draft Lottery this week. As a Laker fan, I've rarely concerned myself with this demeaning spectacle, other than to make snide remarks about how it must be the highlight of the year for fans of habitually losing teams like Atlanta, Cleveland, and the "other" L.A. But this year, I was forced to swallow my pride and fasten my bandwagon seatbelt for a rough stretch of road, because it was my team's turn to toss their lot in with the rest of the losers for the first time in a decade.

They say losing builds character. Maybe so, but in the NBA character is overrated. Until they start adding incentive clauses for helping old ladies across the street and signing autographs with a smile, that isn't likely to change. However, the character of a team's fans is still a valued asset, except in Detroit.

My own brush with character started with my years as a Packer fan, watching them lose year after year, with only fading memories of prehistoric success, Super Bowl victories I'd never seen. The 70s and 80s witnessed rapid expansion of my character as the Packers totally sucked. The beauty of all this is that when they finally turned things around in the 90s with Brett Favre's arrival, I had all this surplus character built up to help me appreciate how truly special and unexpected the success was. Although the Lakers are my "first love" within the sports world, I have to say that the Packers' single Super Bowl victory in 1997 was probably more uplifting to me than the countless championships won by the Lakers. For decades the Lakers have been expected to win, which kind of puts a cap on how special the eventual victory can actually feel.

If people really wanted their teams to win every game, with little risk of ever losing, then Harlem Globetrotters jerseys would be the top-sellers and Meadowlark Lemon would have his own sports drink. When the Globetrotters win their "championship", no one cares, they've proven nothing except that the old "bucket of confetti" trick still works. Without risking defeat, they gain little in victory. It's like that Twilight Zone episode where the guy is magically winning at everything he tries and starting to get tired of it, and only then does he find out he's in hell, and will never do anything but win for eternity.

So, if any NBA fans out there want to tease me a little bit about the awful season my Lakers had, and point out how pathetic it is to pin my hopes for a better future on the 10th pick in the draft, I say go ahead. It will just make the Lakers' coming championship next year that much sweeter.
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