I’ve gotten to the point in my career where I can fund trips to different cities and states to cover the Los Angeles Lakers. I put my own money up to fly myself out and get into the arena so I can witness up close and personal the future of #LakersNation. I look at it like this, I want to get to the point where writing is my full time job, if I invest in myself and in my career, then maybe Bill Simmons and The Ringer will invest in me one day, too. Since Valentine’s Day landed the day before the Lakers and Suns game, I used it as an opportunity to bring my girlfriend along with me to Phoenix so she can witness me doing what I do best. And that is watching the Lakers while I yell my brains out and then go home and write something about it.
I have family in Phoenix so this game was a no brainer to come and witness. I made the 2 hour flight this morning with not only the game on my mind, but the thought of surprising my grandparents. They had no idea I made the trip to cover the game, I pulled up to their house at 8 A.M. and gave them the shock of their life. You see, my dad wasn’t around growing up, that good for nothing bastard left my mom, my brother and myself out to dry while he went and started another family. My grandpa is the man I really consider my father figure, he was there when my father wasn’t. He taught me right from wrong, he taught me how to be a man. I got in the Uber at the Airport and headed straight to his house, as I pulled up he was working on his car. I got out and walked up to him, the second he saw me his face dropped. It was really a beautiful moment for us.
I spent the rest of the day just waiting for 7 o’clock to hit so we could head to Talking Stick Resort Arena and watch the game. As we arrived to the game I was turnt, let me tell you I was bouncing off the wall ready to get inside. I was wearing my Laker gear and to be honest, I was ready to throw these hands with any disrespectful Suns fans who wanted these problems. Luckily for them, they kept it cool. You want to know the coolest thing about being a Laker fan? The fact that in ANY city they travel to, there is a squad of Lakers fan right beside you talking that noise. It was crazy, the floor section where I was seated looked like a baby sea of Purple and Gold.
Now, everything was going perfectly before tip off. I had my beer, my beautiful girl next to me, and the dude sitting next to us had his Brandon Ingram jersey on, I mean, what else could I want? Well, a Laker win would have been nice, scratch that, a Laker squad filled with passion would have been nice. The Lakers came out flatter than a Kardashian before they got their butt implants.
D’Angelo Russell was making sloppy and lazy passes. Brandon Ingram was getting bullied and bodied down in the paint. Julius Randle was playing erratic. Larry Nance Jr. would get the ball and he didn’t even look remotely interested in scoring. Tarik Black had four fouls at halftime. I flew half way across the nation to watch this squad lay a big fat 0 on the floor. But you want to know what’s worse than them playing like this? The fact that they seem to be lacking in basic fundamentals. I can’t tell you how many times I yelled tonight, “USE THE DAMN BACKBOARD WHEN YOU’RE GOING TO LAY IT UP IN TRAFFIC!”
I’ve coached middle schoolers and the stuff I was screaming at Los Angeles tonight, were the exact same things I yelled at them daily. It is so frustrating when simple mistakes are killing you. Besides floating unnecessary shots in the paint, this team still has not figured out the cardinal rule of defense. Stay. On. Your. Feet.
Whether it be a head fake, or a jab step, or a simple pump fake, the defense leaves their feet and since the Lakers have zero rim protectors out there, well you can guess what happens. The Suns were throwing alley oops from half court and just making Los Angeles look silly. There were missed assignments on pick and rolls. Nobody seemed to care to box out, it was just a mess out there tonight. I left the arena with a buzz and a heavy heart.
I was hoping I’d come to Phoenix to watch the Lakers put on a show, and spend a few great days with my family. Well, at least one of those wishes will come true.