Outsiders Roundtable: Why we are thankful for the Lakers

It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers have been a surprise for many one month into the season. While improvement was expected, an 8-8 record against a fairly tough schedule was not something many fans imagined this far into the season.

It suffices to say that the Lakers have made fans happy again. So in the spirit of the holidays and Thanksgiving, the Lakers Outsiders staff want to express what they are thankful for from the Purple and Gold.

Grant Goldberg: With many things to be thankful for, it is a challenging task to narrow it down to a few. Alas, here I go. For one, I am thankful for Lakers sign guy, for sticking with the team and keeping us entertained. Another thing to be thankful for is Metta World Peace’s sideshow this season. He loves basketball but not ghosts. Stars, they are just like us. Third, entertaining basketball. Going into the season, that was all fans wished for, and the Lakers have delivered on that- and more.

Sheen Lee: I’m thankful for the writing opportunities that the Lakers bring as compared to last year. It’s a joy to write about what problems ails this team that doesn’t end with a guy who fittingly shares his last name with Michael Scott. It’s also a joy to actually have the opportunity to able to note good things with the Lakers. I am also thankful for Jordan Farmar, who is not on the team.

Thai Luong: I’m thankful that every Lakers loss hurts. For the last couple of years, losing became so routine and quotidian that you really didn’t care about the Lakers. You knew what the end result of every game would be. This season, the Lakers are competing extremely hard, and they have an opportunity to win each game. I am also thankful that for a brief moment, the thoughts of playoffs and postseason basketball somehow managed to slowly creep into my thoughts. It’s not realistic to think about the playoffs, but it is better than thinking about the lottery.

Drew Hernandez: I’m thankful for a lot of things about the Lakers, but the biggest thing I’m thankful for is having more opportunities for free tacos courtesy of Jiiaaaaaack in the Box (word to Billy Mac). Lakers fans have had fewer and fewer opportunities for free tacos as the team spiraled into the lottery, and last year they only had 12 chances for free tacos. Wins have been scarce in prior years but rookie head coach Luke Walton has given the fanbase a light at the end of the tunnel, and wins are becoming the norm, not a rarity. This young Lakers squad have been playing ferociously in every game and look to extinguish the fans’ hunger for wins – and tacos. They could shatter last year’s win total of 12 home wins and could very well double or triple the amount of free tacos for fans. Free tacos for everyone!

Deanna Chapman: For most of my life, the Lakers have been a good team – even a great team for a good chunk of those seasons. The recent decline hasn’t made me any less of a fan. Sure, it’s made me more frustrated, but that comes with the territory. If any sport or team brings you some sort of joy or frustration, you’re doing something right. It might be weird to say, but I can’t imagine not being a Lakers fan. Seeing a game in person still feels surreal and I’ve been to three games now. The Lakers have always been a bit of an escape for me. It’s a few hours where I get engulfed in the game and forget about things like actual responsibilities. Now whether that’s always a good or bad thing, it’s still something I’m always thankful for.

Trace Polidori: During my younger years in Elementary School and Middle School, my teachers would always ask us to write a small paragraph or a sentence describing what we were thankful for during the week of Thanksgiving. I was an odd kid. Of course, I wrote in that I was thankful for my parents, my dogs, my brother, and my distant family members, but I always emphasized something else in particular on that slim piece of paper with a cartoon turkey on it. The Los Angeles Lakers.

Born and raised in Los Angeles and being a resident for twenty-two years, I have come to realize that the Lakers are more than just a sports team to this city. They are family. Something that cannot be denied about Lakers’ fans is their loyalty to their team. No matter how bad they are in a year, Lakers’ fans will always support them. That love for the team brings the fans together, somewhat like a family. Through thick and thin, Lakers’ fans will never stop clinging to the purple and gold and they will never forget those big moments in Lakers’ history. This team is a part of our lives. They are a part of us as people.

For this Thanksgiving, when it comes to the Lakers, I can say that that is what I am thankful for. The memories that shaped my childhood, the friends that I met through being a Lakers’ fan, and the lessons I learned from watching them play. Never give up, work hard, and you can achieve anything. Thank you, Los Angeles. Thank you, Lakers.

Jacob Rude: When it comes to the Lakers, I’m thankful for Luke Walton.

The Lakers have been a huge part of my life for the better part of the last two decades. And for the majority of those two decades, the Lakers have been very good. But the previous handful of regimes have sucked the fun out of the Lakers.

Walton came in and not only changed the way the team plays on the court, but has changed the entire culture of the Lakers’ organization. No longer are they a team clinging to the past, hoping to recreate great teams of old. Now, they’re embracing the future. THEIR future.

Thank you, Luke Walton, for making the Lakers fun again.

Dillon Hiser: This season I’m thankful for Julius Randle’s progression. Over the offseason with the stellar play of Larry Nance, Jr. during summer league, there were massive debates over the two young forwards. With those debates and how Randle’s first season was so up and down, it led to quite a bit of criticism.

Julius has been able to silence all of those who were skeptical with his play to start the season. For instance, his field goal percentage is up 11 points, he’s scoring at a higher rate and shown the ability to finish over length which was a concern last season. But it’s not only his scoring that has improved. He’s averaging nearly four assists per game and has improved tremendously on defense, showing the capability to switch onto guards and hold his own in space.

Randle has been the vital cog that the team wished he would be when they drafted him seventh overall. The team finds itself in the midst of the playoff race and while it’s very early in the season, if they want to continue this success, Randle will have to keep progressing.

I’m also thankful for the Lakers Outsiders staff. These guys are a ton of fun to work with and I appreciate everything we’re doing together. *heart emoji*

Harrison Faigen: I’m thankful for the opportunity to write about a team that (as of my writing this before the Warriors game) has won more than they lost. After starting to cover the Lakers the day Dwight Howard left, there haven’t been the sheer volume of fun stories and moments involving the team over the last three years combined as there have been this year. Just be thankful that the Lakers are finally fun again, Lakers fans.

Erick Camacho: This Thanksgiving, what am I thankful for? I’m thankful for the constituents that have established the Lakers where they are today.

Jim Buss hiring MDA over Phil? Yeah, I’m thankful for that. Because it provided us with the opportunity to endure a long three-coach entourage that brought us Luke.

Dwight Howard spurning the Lakers for Houston? Yup, thankful for that too. It proved to an organization that the NBA landscape is changing, and with it began a process of clarity that Mitch and Jim absolutely had to see if success was to be achieved.

All of those free agents not acknowledging the Lakers? Yeah, getting some of them would’ve been great, but having a young core like the one we have today is going to be soooo much better. Think about the growth, the unyielding years that await us ahead.

But ultimately, WHO am I thankful for? Mitch and Jim, who worked behind the scenes to bring us this core despite the criticism and pressure they received from some of the fans to put together a playoff product that would likely flame out in the first or second round in this stacked western conference. They preserved, they caressed, but most importantly they went after players who would be proud to don the purple and gold, and they maintained this vision, despite the talent that was available out in the market.

So kudos to those of us who have supported each other, it’s brought us this far, and I’m sure it’ll take us further.

Gary Kester: I’m thankful for finally being able to say there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the Lakers’ rebuild. As the losses have piled up over these last three years, the Lakers went from a team with seemingly no future after Kobe Bryant in 2013 to having perhaps the brightest long-term future in the NBA as 2016 comes to a close. As the team started to build the foundation by nailing their draft picks, we all sort of assumed the light was going to be there at some point, even though the Lakers continued to plummet. Now, we can see that light, and as each day passes, it only shines brighter.

Luke Walton has reshaped the culture back into what Lakers fans are more familiar with. The days of praying for a top pick are gone. Progress is finally here, and I am loving every second of it. There is still work to be done, but very soon we can officially say: The Lakers are back.

Austin Green: I’m thankful for Kobe and that he went out the way he did, for Luke and the kids making the Lakers fun again, for the awesome staff here that has way too many inside jokes, and for this picture of Honi:

me-tux

Honi Ahmadian: There are plenty of things to be thankful for regarding the Lakers. More than anything, I am thankful about the distraction and entertainment that they are for me.

Through some tough times in recent weeks (nothing serious, don’t worry), the Lakers have been a bit of an escape for me. That’s not something I could have said last year when at times, I felt compelled to completely ignore the team.

No, these Lakers have been fun and entertaining. They have competed in nearly every game, oftentimes coming back late in games in which they had nearly no chance of winning. That has not only been incredibly enjoyable to watch, but it has been a life lesson through the regular struggles of life.

The Lakers have brought me happiness this season through their competitive fire. They have also brought me happiness as they have brought me closer to this band of misfits that we call Lakers Outsiders – some of the greatest people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know and become friends with as we strive for the same goals, even if they have an unhealthy obsession with weird photos of me.

As a staff, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of you who read our work and support us as we strive to make this team effort even bigger. Thank you all and have a happy Thanksgiving!

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