Welcome to knee-jerk reaction corner! This is where we freak out over one pre-season game and scream “The Sky is falling!” to everyone who will listen. Just joking, that’s the realm of casual fans, pot stirrers and down right haters. I am none of those things. Schadenfreude is such a stupid and transparent excuse for a good take. It’s also probably the biggest reason I don’t watch a lot of sports shows anymore. It dominates the landscape of sports television these days. Where is the subtlety and nuance? Where is the actual understanding of the fact that an eighty two game season is a marathon, not a sprint? It’s not on your TV that’s for sure, it’s here with me.
He put a lot on his own shoulders
Now I will start by saying that last night’s performance by Russell Westbrook was a bit of a letdown for me. I was really excited to see him finally play, and he was definitely underwhelming last night. It was certainly not ideal, but it was also kind of expected. There’s a lot of weight on Russ’ shoulders right now. He put a lot of that weight on himself too. He’s from Los Angeles. He has always wanted to be a Laker. He was also highly praised by Kobe as being someone who embodies the “Mamba mentality”. So, he’s trying to live up to those lofty expectations, all while trying to fit in with a new team. Not an easy task for someone who is as hard on himself as Russ is. These knee-jerk reactions are a waste of time, if you just look a little bit below the surface.
No knee-jerk from LeBron
Thankfully the leader of this team also understands how stupid knee-jerk reactions are. LeBron James said it best in his press conference after the game. He was quoted as saying “For me, I care more about the practice courts, than I care about pre-season games.”. That’s the right mentality to have. Only fools celebrate in the pre-season. This time of year is mostly about experimenting with lineups, and just seeing who plays well with who. There are only THREE returning Lakers from last years roster. This team will most likely not even hit it’s stride until mid-November. But I get it, I’m used to people leaning on Schadenfreude for their takes. When you win as often as the Lakers do, it fuels the haters.