It is twelve days into 2013 and the Los Angeles Lakers are still looking for their first ‘W’ of the year. They are on a six-game slide, with tough games coming thick and fast. The season started with expectations of another banner being raised in the Staples and the Lakers collecting their 17th Championship. The arrival of big-name players such as Steve Nash and Dwight Howard meant the Lakers had a right to believe this was going to be their year. However, things do not always work out as planned and the season went sour for the purple and yellow of LA.
A combination of injuries, lack of chemistry, new systems, new coaches etc. have led to the Lakers’ ambitions for the season understandably being reviewed, and even making the Playoffs seems a tad ambitious for a roster that is currently 15-21. What is it that the Lakers are missing? What is the missing ingredient to the success they so dearly endeavour to achieve?
Many have pointed to D’Antoni’s misuse of two of the game’s great post players; Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Others have pointed to the injuries that have plagued the roster all year. However, I feel the one thing these Lakers are missing in abundance is the heart that so many others possess (Jeff Green, Tim Duncan etc.).
One shining light that prevailed in the 108-105 loss at the San Antonio Spurs was the emergence of a man full of heart; Earl Clark. With injuries affecting the Lakers lineup, Clark was given a chance which he snatched at with both hands. His performance against the Spurs was reminiscent of a rookie trying his best to get noticed in the big leagues. All this from a man who was drafted way back in 2009. He worked his socks off putting in a stellar performance, with 22 points, 13 rebounds and three assists.
However, it wasn’t Clark’s numbers that helped him to stand out for the Lakers. It was the heart that he displayed. If the Lakers players resemble a team of Wizard of Oz-esque tin-men with no heart, then it is good ol’ Earl that has the ability to click his heels three times and return this team to the Playoffs where they belong.
In last night’s blow-out loss to the OKC Thunder, Clark once again demonstrated his heart with some great plays that threatened to paper over the cracks of a bad Lakers performance. He recorded his second consecutive double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The one hope I have for the Lakers is that Clark’s heart becomes infectious and that LAL can turn this around before it is too late. We don’t want the Lakers’ Wizard of Oz, Mike D’Antoni, to be unveiled as nothing more than an ordinary man, do we?
SPORT IS EVERYTHING. Richard Barrett.