Enjoying the demise of the Lakers 

Taking pleasure in others' pain

Taking pleasure in others’ pain

The Los Angeles Lakers were getting their asses kicked by the San Antonio Spurs, and I was screaming at the television. “Die, you bastards, die!” I said to the screen, waving my fists. “I’ve been waiting years to see this happen.”

“Aren’t you getting a little too excited about it?” my friend, herself only a casual basketball fan, asked. “It’s only a game.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” I said. “This is far more than just a game. It’s history finally righting itself.

This is a comeuppance many years in the making. I want to enjoy the moment. The last time I was this happy, I was in Little Rock, Ark., watching Bush concede the election.”

“Why do you hate the Lakers so much?” my friend asked. “I like Shaq and Kobe. They’re cool.”

“The Lakers, like the Republican Party, are the embodiment of all that’s wrong in the world,” I said. “They deserve whatever punishment they receive.”

“How can you say that?” my friend asked.

“The Lakers — and the Republicans — have this air of invincibility around them,” I said. “They both think they can do no wrong, and that feeling makes them do bad things. No team is more arrogant or more unsportsmanlike than the Lakers. That’s why they deserve to lose.”

“You’re just saying that because they beat the Pacers in the NBA Finals a few years ago,” my friend said. “And you don’t like the Republicans because they beat your hero Bill’s boy in the last election.”

“You’re missing the point,” I said. “The Lakers at least beat the Pacers fair and square. The Lakers are evil because of what they stand for, not because they beat my team. You don’t hear me railing about the Celtics.”

“What have the Lakers done, exactly, that’s so bad?” my friend asked.

“They’ve ruined the game of basketball,” I said. “They’ve polluted the game. The officials give Shaq all the breaks. The league wants them to win so badly that the other team has to blow them away. If it’s close at the end, the officials will give the game to the Lakers.”

“Jordan used to get all the calls, too,” my friend said. “It’s just how it’s done.”

“Yeah,” I said, “but Jordan at least had some class. So what you’re saying is that it’s OK to cheat? It’s OK to win the game on a phony foul call? It’s OK to not count votes in Florida?”

“I think you’re taking this too seriously,” my friend said.

“That’s what’s screwing up this country,” I said. “It’s the attitude that people are entitled to something. If the NBA doesn’t like the outcome, it gets arranged that the Lakers will win. If the Supreme Court doesn’t like the winner of the election, they give it to the other guy. Nothing’s honest anymore.”

“Um,” my friend said. “There’s five minutes left in the game and the Lakers are losing. I don’t think even the NBA could turn this game around.”

“Yeah,” I said. “And occasionally the person with the most votes wins the election. It’s the exception that proves the rule. If the game were close, you’d see Tim Duncan getting called for a foul every time the Lakers got the ball.”

“Admit it,” my friend said. “You just don’t like the Lakers.”

“I don’t,” I said, “but it’s more than that. It’s also the fact that they’re from Los Angeles, the most arrogant, fake, overbearing city in the world. Everything about Los Angeles — and the Lakers — is phony. Just look at their dancers. You can’t tell me that they’re natural. Look at the crowd. None of them makes less than half a million. It’s all a fraud.”

“Look,” my friend said. “Derek Fisher is crying. It’s all over for the Lakers.”

“Schadenfreude,” I said.


“It’s a German word that means ‘taking malicious pleasure in the suffering of another,’” I said. “I’m feeling very schadenfreude right now. It’s like watching Mike Tyson getting his ass kicked or seeing Martha Stewart getting arrested.”

“I still don’t see why you dislike the Lakers so much,” my friend said.

“It’s because nothing is fair anymore,” I said. “The government lies and deceives and people who point it out are called unpatriotic. The news media are all one-sided shills for the president. Everything has been turned upside down. This is justice. This is the way things should be. Vengeance is ours!”

“OK,” my friend said. “You’re starting to scare me. I’m going to Kroger to get some more Doritos.”

“Wait,” I said. “The Kings-Mavericks game is coming on. You haven’t heard how I feel about the city of Dallas.”

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