My whole life, I have always been competitive.
Not very talented, mind you, but competitive.
Growing up, my dad and I would play backgammon all the time. He is the best player in my family and it is not uncommon for people to challenge him during family parties. So learning from him was (and still is) learning from the best.
But when we would play, he would frustrate me to no end.
“Pasha, you should have moved that chip instead. Here, take your move back.”
This line, or some variation of it, has been said to me by my dad in probably every single game we have ever played. He didn’t think I made the right move and wanted to teach me. The best way to do so in his mind was to tell me what the best moves are for every roll.
I absolutely hate this and it still bugs me to this day.
I made the move and I should deal with the consequences. If I win, I want all the glory and if I lose, I don’t want anyone else to blame. Although I will never admit it to him, I know that every time he makes the comment, he is right.
But I would rather lose the game than lose any feeling of competition.
But the past few years, it seems like my desire for the Los Angeles Lakers to succeed has been negatively affecting my competitive drive.
Let’s rewind a little bit:
In 2011, the Lakers had a trade in place for Chris Paul, which was accepted and then vetoed by the league. Chris Paul ended up going to the LA Clippers and the Lakers needed to go with plan B.
In the offseason on 2012, the Lakers were able to trade for Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, who was the best center in the league at the time. All they needed to complete the dream team was a point guard.
Lakers management, mainly Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss, wanted to reunite point guard Steve Nash with the newly hired head coach Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni and Nash were the most dangerous offensive pairing in the league a few years prior in Phoenix and Buss wanted to recreate that in Los Angeles.
Although Nash was 38-years-old and dealing with back issues, the Lakers traded FOUR future draft picks for him. One of those picks were a protected 2015 first-round pick. If the Lakers received a top five pick in 2015, they kept that first-rounder. From 2016-2017, the Lakers needed to stay in the top 3.
Almost three years later, in February 2015, the Phoenix Suns traded that pick to Philadelphia, who have it now, in a three-team deal that landed them Brandon Knight.
So for the last two seasons, there has been an incentive for the Lakers to lose, or tank as it is known in the NBA, and have higher odds for getting a top three pick. If they don’t, the pick goes to the 76ers.
The Lakers are in the last year of incentivized losing since the pick is unprotected next season.
Now that the NBA season is drawing to a close, the good teams are vying for playoff seeds, while the bad teams are competing for better picks.
The Lakers have won their last three games, but I must admit that I was not necessarily happy when it happened.
Yes, the Lakers are a young team who need to learn how to win and create winning environment our young bucks.
But they have not been able to sign a big free agent or even complete a trade for a quality player since 2012. The only way they will get better is through the draft.
And will these young guys even be on the team in a few seasons? Is it time to give up on some of them and build for the future?
These are the questions that keep me up at night and as I look for an answer, in the back of my mind I hear my dad’s voice saying,
“Pasha, you should have moved that chip.”