TEAM DREAMS 2016: THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS

LAKERS PREVIEW 2016–17:

It has been a turmoil-laden couple of years for THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS. First, they traded everyone to bring Dwight Howard in. It did not work out, so everyone slowly left, leaving Kobe Bryant alone to get high on his own asshole stink while everyone else watched and clapped uncomfortably.

In the process, the Squad of Shaq O’Neal, Magic, Nick Van X-L, and widely disliked shooting guard Jerry West, lost all of its once prodigious shine and is now living in the shit-pit with the rest of the world’s trash NBA teams, wheeling and dealing and hoping their young players turn into SOMETHING and just kind of staring into the middle distance of the future with some optimism but nothing close to certainty. They have left the Lake for good, fallen into the slipstream, been coughed up into the ocean, awaiting the sharks and cannons and storms like the rest of the NBA’s noble, battered vessels. Look at these young men, sailing into the storms of the season ahead, waiting for the hell that awaits them in the coming year:

ONE: D’ANGELO RUSSELL: A larger than average point guard with some notable gifts. The weight of youth and the combined bullshit of Byron Scott and Kobe kept him grounded in his rookie season, his only notable accomplishment being outing Nick Young as a coward unworthy of his post, or life. Look at that grim look across his face. The world has never been this difficult for this young man-of-talents. The winds blows in his face, the rain swells, his ankles are submerged, his feet soaking, his body hypothermic.

TWO: JOSE CALDERON: How did Jose end up in this situation? He was such a good teammate. He was kind to his friends, he loved his enemies, he did everything he could to make a nice life for the people around him. As the storm approaches, he lifts up his eye patch, and uses his second, invisible, eye, to see the spirits in the waves. For a second, he sees himself in an incoming water pipe tornado. Is that his spirit, traveling from the future, possessing the water, intent on killing himself before the worst of it comes? Is this storm on an errand of mercy?

THREE: BRANDON INGRAM: Once, he could do anything! That size, that handle… dreams out of reach for most could be cupped in the palm of his hand, stroked like a kitten, held to his face and in his pants for warmth. But here on this cruel open ocean, the lights are flickering. LeBron just blocked him at the rim and made a hilarious dismissive face. The entire internet found it and shared it, over and over and over. He would do anything to escape from the pain of embarrassment for even a second.

He stares at the ritual suicide knife given to him by his coach on the day they set sail. He never thought he would have to use it, that these arcane Northern California superstitions peddled by Luke and his father were just nonsense. But, now, for the first time in his life, he knows what is it to have no honor left. His cowardice in the face of trial haunts him night after night.

FOUR: LUOL DENG: Life was so easy, once. Praise from the left, from the right, awards, glory. He hardly did anything aside from marginal shooting and ball handling and excellent defense, but gold statues were still erected in his honor. “I feel I have been tricked” reads his diary, recovered after the crash that would eventually kill them all, except Nick Young, who fled his post in a pique of cowardice. “The Eastern seas made for simple heroes. I was not prepared for the swells of these western worlds. This crew is terrible, the ship is leaking, the journey pointless, the rewards non-existent. I hope my body will be taken back home and displayed in the town square as a warning to young men who romanticize this terrible journey. May it keep them away from this nightmare.”

FIVE: TIMOFEY MOZGOV: The money was good, he keeps telling himself. I was going to be done working, forever. But on that day when he was poisoned by that fish, so cute in appearance, so deadly in touch, the pain and suffering in his belly taught him what the real price of riches was. He lost touch with everything. His giant body felt as if it were eight feet tall one second, two and a half feet tall the next. He lies in the bottom of the ship, hears the waves crashing, his crewmates flying off the decks into the ocean below, he hears their desperate hands banging against the wooden panels surrounding him, then getting swept away in the current and drowning, their bodies left to bloat and feed the fish and pickle in the salt.

When the water finally breaches the hull, he sheds one small tear of happiness. Finally, it is over. This hell boat will return to where it belongs and his soul will rise to heaven as a reward for his good works.

Unfortunately for him, a surprise awaits him on the other side.