Last place Lakers teach life lessons

Life, Sports

What the purple and gold have taught me about humility and motivation


Sweet strokes and demoralizing dunks dazzled fans at Staples Center on March 7. And yet, as delicious as that sounds, the game was anything but appetizing. The Clippers furiously ripped apart the last-place Lakers in a 48-point blowout.

To put it nicely, the Lakers have had a rough season. They lost, regained and then lost again their fearless leader, Kobe Bryant. Then, the rest of their roster dropped like flies due to injuries and illnesses.

As I’ve proclaimed on Twitter, the Lakers are dead. The season isn’t over however, they still have 18 more games. With the Lakers in this foreign state, I’m going to take this opportunity to use the ragtag team as a metaphor for life.

The Lakers have fallen from grace. In the span of five years, they have gone from championship winners to playoff contenders to irrelevancy. The franchise demands nothing less than perfection, and the fall has been long and hard.

Watching the purple and gold flailing has highlighted a key facet in my mind: the importance of humility. When the fans start filing out and people stop tuning in, hiding in the locker room is not an option. When the front office conducts trade talks behind your back, throwing tantrums is not acceptable. There are no excuses.

The best choice of action for the Lakers in this situation is for them to swallow their pride and ride out the storm. The team lacks talent, which means even a maximum effort could result in a loss.

Likewise, life presents similar scenarios. Days turn into struggles, people double cross you and even personal victories can feel tainted by a sour season. Oftentimes, the jabs that hurt the most are the invisible ones: the barely audible whispers on the sidelines and the glare of empty seats.

All hope feels lost, but there is a bright spot. Being knocked down to such a low point is a vehement reminder to never take anything for granted. Championship success should be celebrated tastefully rather than brashly. Treat teammates and competitors with respect because who knows what will happen a decade from now.

An individual currently overlooked could end up a superstar in five years’ time. Humility can translate into tactful motivation. Kobe tweeted a “thank you” to the Clippers for beating down on his team after the embarrassing loss, then in a Power 106 radio interview said, “Revenge is sweet and it’s quick.” Kobe has been knocked down in the past (and successfully bounced back up), and I’m inclined to reverentially follow his lead — to ascend the persistent haters and use futile positions as fuel to work harder to improve.

Granted, the Black Mamba earned his keep through 17 years in the NBA, and as a junior in college, I haven’t tasted anything close to that amount of success. And although I played on an awful high school basketball team, I can’t say I’ve experienced the raw disappointment of a nationally televised 48-point home court loss.

What I can do is relate and remember: At the end of a fruitless season or upon completing a strenuous challenge, the humility learned and motivation gained is invaluable.

As published in the Pepperdine University student-publication, the Graphic.

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