by DJM on March 11 at 11:14AM

I gave up.

I don’t really like to admit this, but: I totally gave up. So I left. I got up and I left the room which had been so raucous but was suddenly so quiet.

Because I was sure it was over.

How could it not be over? It was the fourth quarter. It was Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. And the Lakers were down by fifteen. Fifteen. It had seemed like a magical season, followed by a thrilling playoff run and one of the best series I can remember. And it was going to end with a blowout? It seemed wrong. But it was happening.

So yeah, I gave up. I went elsewhere in the house, and sat with some friends, and said “hopefully next year.”

But it was difficult to miss the fact that the party that had stayed in front of the TV was growing louder. And growing louder. And then the shouting started, that triumphant shouting, those cries of disbelief that are the best part of sports. And I ran into the living room to see what could possibly be happening that would evoke this reaction, these people standing up, jumping around, their hands over their heads.

The alley-oop. You know the one. Kobe to Shaq, the one-handed jam, Diesel thundering back down the court showing his O-face, and the game ending with Kobe hopping in place and smiling and clapping his hands.

I saw it on replay. I didn’t get to see the real thing, because I had given up.

That was the last time I gave up on my team.

It was easy in those first few years when everything went so well. The first victory over the Pacers. The second year with the unstoppable playoff run and the shocking Game 1 loss to Allen Iverson which galvanized the team to prove that the loss had been a fluke, when they finally turned It on. That third, sort of strange year when the Lakers were just so much better than everyone else but bored of being so good, when the finals were just an epilogue to the masterpiece that was the Kings series.

When Robert Horry cemented his place in history.

But then things started to come apart after that. The boredom of 2002 led to the complacence of 2003. 2004 brought a trip to the Finals that ended with the first-ever five-game sweep. The Colorado Incident. The Shaq Forceout. Phil Jackson said that Kobe was “uncoachable”. Kobe almost jumped to the Clippers which would have caused my head to spin around. He re-signed… but then he started grumbling. He started openly mocking his teammates. He wanted Bynum gone. He was agitating for a trade, and by gum it looked like my team – my team! – was going to lose Kobe Bryant for Shawn freaking Marion. The greatest player of his generation was about to be given away for peanuts.

And yet… I didn’t give up. I did think about it, though. Things seemed to be in such disarray, with Kobe wasting his prime around substandard role players… and maybe, I thought, just maybe it would be easier to just not give a shit.

But I had learned my damn lesson. I remembered how horrible I had felt when I realized that I had missed what would have been my favorite ever moment in my sports-watching history because I had given up too early. So I kept with it, even as the Lakers kept falling short. I hoped and cheered and screamed and wanted to wring Steve Nash’s neck.

And now… I watch my team and I’m so glad I didn’t give up. Because I can see a fire back in their eyes, and a look on Kobe’s face that suggests that he’s ready for something. And I breathe a sigh of relief, because I don’t want to be one of those fair-weather LA fans that doesn’t even notice the Lakers until the second round of the playoffs. I haven’t given up hope. I’ve stuck with them.

I get a chance to cheer for the best player in the world.

And I’m never giving up on him.



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9 Comments

Comments

[March 11, 2008 11:28 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Diallo said

Amen, brother.

[March 11, 2008 12:30 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Beast of the East said

You guys should shut down this site because mike lupica is my idol and i luv him soooooooooooooooo much he is a sports genius

[March 11, 2008 12:53 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Beast: Dude, I love page views and comments, but seriously... what is going on at the Southern Westchester Lower Hudson Regional Information Center that makes you want to post comments about idolizing Mike Lupica on this site?

[March 11, 2008 4:29 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Mike Lupica said

SOMEBODY STOP ME!

[March 11, 2008 4:44 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Jim Carrey said

Hey, that's my line!

[March 12, 2008 3:25 AM]  |  link  |  reply
bittu said

this article is so funny, because I did the same exact thing but on the day the kobe put 81 on raptors...as soon as they went down by 18, i turned it off and went somewhere thinking 'here goes another blowout' Only to read 81 next to kobes face on ESPN.com next morning. I sickness I felt that day sitting on that chair staring at the monitor is probably was the same as you felt it...and just like you, since that day, i have NEVER given up on my team...

[March 12, 2008 1:24 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Best from the west said

Im calling u out son u beast of the east im the best of the west so watch it and i'll hunt u down by the way i still luv mike lupica like u we should get together and talk about our love for him!!

[March 12, 2008 2:42 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Disney's The Beast said

You may go anywhere you like, except the West Wing. IT IS FORBIDDEN!

[March 13, 2008 8:17 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Disney's The Beast said

I am a retard i shouldn't have said that i am afraid of u the beast of the east and best of the west please don't hurt me i was kidding and i luv mike lupica P.S. my cousin's the mouth of the south


Spring Training 08






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