Party like it’s 1998

April 17th, 2009 | by Spencer Hall

Photo: Michael Brandy, Deseret News

These are the kinds of stories that make fans of other teams detest the Lakers:

Lakers forward Luke Walton poked his head out of the weight-room door gazed out onto the court. The Lakers had just finished a highly-spirited 90-minute practice, which had players trash-talking and woofing like they were on the playground instead of the slick hardwood of one of the jewels of the NBA.

“Lamar,” Walton yelled at Lamar Odom, who was engulfed in television cameras and reporters. “You gonna win championships out there, or in here?”

Responded Odom: “In there.” And then, under his breath laughing, “He’s a jerk.”

Times and smiles are good in LA-LA land as championship hopes spring eternal once again. This time, though, the Lakers wont creep up on anybody. Last year, without Andrew Bynum, they were counted out before advancing to the NBA Finals. This year their young fireball is healthy, albeit wearing a purple and gold knee brace.

Ahh, times and smiles. Life is good in LA! The most crushing part of the Jazz collapse is that few Jazz players seem interested in wiping those smiles off their face. Deron Williams seems angry and ready to go for 50 with 0 assists, which I would have absolutely no problem watching. Harpring and Collins are always ready to foul someone, but that’s just what they do. I’m not even sure they’re aware of their surroundings anymore. They just enter the game and start fouling. And who else? Milsap maybe?

Now, all motivation for paying attention to this series seems to shift toward ruining the LA coronation rather than hoping for a long Jazz run. Would anything be more satisfying for a Jazz fan than to play the spoiler in this season? At this point I’d settle for stealing Game 1 and still losing is 6.  In fact, that’s my prediction for the series.

Lastly, I keep hearing the words of Verne Lundquist calling the 1998 Jazz-Lakers series and opening the Game 1 broadcast with “Everyone expects the Lakers to roll through the Jazz on the way to the Finals!” We all know that series ended in a Jazz sweep of the Lakers. Someone hypnotize the Jazz with Backstreet Boys music and blonde-tipped hair cuts and make them think it’s 1998.

So, what’s it going to be? Do the Jazz steal a win? Do they shock the world and completely alienate the players who already have vacation plans? Make your predictions in the comments.

Update: I love this reprint of a Boozer photo shoot from SLAM Magazine, and especially this comment:

sadly, that basketball drove past Boozer and layed it up with ease.

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at
Spencer Hall
Spencer Hall

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  1. G1 says:

    What’s wrong with that quote? I personally don’t see anything offensive about it, at least enough to “make fans of other teams detest the Lakers.” You got a teammate joking around with another teammate about spending too much time in front of the cameras, with a little quip about championship aspirations. You saying teams shouldn’t entertain the idea of making a deep playoff/championship run, especially when they’re one of the favorites to win it all?

    If anything, Walton’s quote shows a desire to be in the weight room working hard for the championship rather than basking in the media glow.

    A little bitter, aren’t we?

    • It’s true, and upon reading it again, I think I missed the tone of the original story. The Jazz are so embarrassing right now, I got a little testy when I read it as a story of the Lakers clowning around and enjoying the time before their easy beatdown on the submissive Jazz.

      It’s been written elsewhere, but I think the thing that makes the Jazz so unwatchable right now is that they just don’t seem to care. So if they don’t care that the Lakers are making them look foolish, I certainly shouldn’t care about the camaraderie of the Lakers.

      So, point taken. And yes, I am bitter.

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