As Kings fans, we tend to enjoy any misfortune bestowed upon the Lakers. They are our rivals, even if they may not think much of us. We loathe them. We generally try to even avoid using such profanity as the word "Lakers" (apologies to Tom for using such foul language on the front page), instead opting for [redacted]. As such, our natural reaction was some combination of happiness, vindication, and laughter when news broke that the NBA had prevented Chris Paul from being traded to Los Angeles.
I'll admit, I shared those initial reactions. The more I've thought about it, though, the more I want the trade to go through. And not just because I fear the precedent, or the meddling of Stern, or the way this hurts New Orleans. Those are all legitimate concerns, but those aren't why I want this trade to go through.
I want the trade to go through because I want the Lakers to be good.
Please, please, I know you're grabbing your torches and pitchforks, but hear me out.
I've been reading Playing For Keeps, the excellent profile of Michael Jordan written by David Halberstam. It's an incredible read that I highly recommend. Within the book, Halberstam discusses Jordan's childhood. Jordan would regularly play basketball in the driveway with his older brother. His brother always won. He was bigger and stronger than Michael. But then Michael grew, and the games got closer. Eventually, Michael consistently beat his brother. It wasn't because his brother had gotten worse, but because Michael got better.
The Lakers are like our much older, much bigger brother. It means everything to us if we can beat them. We barely register on the radar. And my god do I ever want to beat them. But when the Kings eventually topple the Lakers, I don't want it to be because the Lakers got worse, I want it to be because the Kings got better.
This season, when Reke and DeMarcus and Jimmer lead the Kings to an NBA championship, I don't want Lakers fans to have "we would have won if the NBA hadn't rigged it and voided the Chris Paul trade" to fall back on. Even if (for you pessimists out there) the Kings don't win the championship this season, any victory over the Lakers will come with an excuse from Laker fans. That's what Stern has done to us.
Right now NBA fans of all teams are eviscerating Stern, jumping to the defense of the Lakers. The league that for so long seemed tilted in the Lakers favor, is now "proved" to be rigged, but against the Lakers. Their fan base has become insufferable whiners, using their other ridiculously lopsided trades as an argument of "why now?" This is what Stern has unleashed. It is a whole new level of evil.
I hope the NBA corrects this idiocy. Give the Lakers their newest All-Star. It would suck for a great player like Chris Paul to become part of the Lakers legacy, but it's OK. It's par for the course. We hated it, but none of us were really surprised when news came that the trade was going to happen. Just let it be.
Let the Lakers be good. I want them to be good. Only because it would make any Kings victory that much sweeter.