Friday, June 13, 2008

Choke job

Hello… My name is Ryan, and I am a Homer. I am a child of the 80’s and growing up in San Diego, it was either the Clippers or the Lakers, so the choice was pretty easy… I am a Homer for the Los Angeles Lakers. Well, them and the Washington Wizards, but that’s like being a Padres fan… But I digress. I just share this little tidbit so that you’ll understand how hard this next part is.

I don’t normally comment on specific games, but rather bigger issues reflecting “bad” aspects of other sports in the news. The focus of this blog is bad baseball, and Joe (the landlord in these parts) does a superlative job of highlighting particularly poor performances night-to-night, but I just couldn’t let last night’s NBA game go peacefully into the night. The Lakers performance was so epically bad, they deserve honorable mention with baseball’s bumblers.

Let me put this in perspective for you… After the first quarter, they were up 35-14. For those of you who are mathematically challenged, that is 21 points… AFTER THE FIRST QUARTER! The words “enfuego” and “unstoppable” actually came out of my mouth at that point. In fact, the Lakers were able to push their lead to as many as 24 at one point in the first half over the seemingly hapless Celtics. And while they became more human in the second quarter, allowing Boston to get three points closer by halftime, they still went to the locker room with an 18 points lead, at home, in a game they MUST win to have a shot at the Title. But, unfortunately, the team that came out of that locker room was not the Lakers (a team whose proud traditions of winning are among the most honored in basketball history), but rather the aforementioned Clippers, and the biggest collapse ever in a must-win game got underway. Not only did the Lakers fail to hold their enormous lead, but they lost the game by six points, and earned the distinction of having lost the largest lead in NBA Finals history (in the shot clock era).

This is the equivalent of the Patriots taking a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl and losing by two scores. This is the equivalent of Tiger blowing a 4-shot advantage in a Major to lose by three strokes on a day he is wearing his red shirt. This is the equivalent of Mariano Rivera blowing a 3-run lead in the Ninth by giving up a grand slam to Big Papi in the AL Championship. (eds. note: easy on the Rivera comment there, Ry. I almost threw up on my work computer at the thought…)

This Lakers’ collapse is not the biggest choke-job in sports history, but that didn’t make it any less painful to watch. Their exit from the playoffs is now a foregone conclusion, and the Lakers-Celtics rivalry that was supposed to make this Finals one for the Ages is now as limp and uninteresting as a Charlotte Bobcats-Miami Heat regular season game (in a strike year).

I wonder how much a Clippers foam finger is going for these days…

At any rate, I am interested to hear what you think are the biggest chokes ever in sports. Comment and let me know where you think last night’s game ranks!


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