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
And yet… I didn’t give up. I did
think about it, though. Things seemed to be in such disarray, with
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
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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