What was written for 2012 in the year of sports is concluded, but the LA sports script is unfinished. Act 2012 saw Frank McCourt get run out of town, Darryl Sutter strut into town, and a mixed back of success, disappointments, and straight cash homie. Going into 2013, Los Angeles certainly has positioned itself for success with no small shortage of expectations.
So here is a preview of some things to look forward to in 2013. They aren’t all destined to make the final cut, and aren’t all the best-case scenarios either, but what could unfold in LA after the Southern California sun sets on 2012.
Act 2013. Scene 1:
Raising a Banner for the Stanley Cup Champions. Everyday Kings fan grow exceedingly anxious to celebrate the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions in STAPLES Center by raising that first banner, because everyday its increasingly unlikely that it will happen before the fall. When the NFL lockout happened, there was no doubt a deal would get done. But the NHL season is in serious doubt, and the Stanley Cup Champions have the most to lose, not gain from this extended lockout. The champs may not get to defend their Cup in 2013, but we can look forward to raising the banner even if its later rather than sooner.
2013 Freeway Series: If the World Series was about whoever spent the most money, the Yankees would have a decade’s worth of consecutive championships, only to be upended by the winner of the Freeway Series in 2013. Baseball fans in LA cannot wait for a matchup of such epic proportions. The rest of the country knows its very unlikely, but they would absolutely hate it. In Game 6 of the epic series Zack Greinke could go to Anaheim to face his former team, only to . . . let’s not spoil the ending.
Kobe’s 6th NBA championship. It would be Nash, Howard, and D’Antoni’s first championship as well. Considering the Lakers season thus far it’s rather unlikely to happen. For now it has less to do with the team constructed (other than the bench) and more to do with these types of teams need time to gel and be motivated—they don’t happen overnight.
The Clippers first ever Western Conference Finals appearance. With the best record in the NBA and riding a 17 game wining streak, the Clippers look the more likely to win their first NBA championship, but building a championship team can be a process. Success in the NBA is measured in championships, but historically the Clippers would be the exception, and a moral victory in the conference finals would be acceptable.
The second round matchup between the Lakers and Clippers in the NBA postseason. The Lakers are 9.5 games behind the first place Clippers, and 5.5 behind 4th seeded Memphis. Even if they go on a tear, the Lakers won’t be higher than the 4 seed, and the Clippers if they go ice, ice cold won’t be lower than the 5 seed. A first round matchup is not out of the question. And the Lakers getting out of the first round or Clippers suddenly turning into the Clippers are also not out of the question. But a 2nd round matchup would feature the highest stakes with the most reasonable scenario for this Hallway Series in the NBA playoffs.
Lane Kiffin being fired midseason from USC’s struggles. Lane Kiffin’s short leash could be cut if the Trojans struggle early. They have non-conference games against Hawaii, Boston College, and Utah State. But then there’s the more likely time to get fired, after a disappointing regular season and before the Hidden Valley Assisted Living Bowl played in Orlando Florida. Without the expectations of being preseason #1 in the country, and if Max Wittek comes into his own, its obviously possible for a more successful campaign in 2013.
UCLA’s 3rd consecutive Pac 12 South title. They will clearly miss senior running back Jonathan Franklin, and Anthony Barr and Datone Jones if they turn pro, but Jim Mora seems to have righted the ship at UCLA. While it looked like the most unlikely of scenarios during Pete Carroll’s tenure, UCLA could be the better program than USC, and perhaps make a run at a BCS bowl game, rather than a sophomore slump from Jim Mora.
Matt Kemp MVP. If the Dodgers go where they want to go, it’ll be number 27 that takes them there.
Ben Howland being fired. The fate of Howland will be known fairly soon. Howland’s talented recruiting class will decide his fate one way or the other. If Howland underachieves with this class and new facilities he will be out for the Bruins. But if this team can pull together and play well in conference and in March, Ben Howland will be looking at another top recruiting class.
Chris Paul MVP. It’s the unlikely scenario that the Clippers have the best record in the West that make him an obvious choice for MVP, like Steve Nash winning back to back MVPs with the Suns. But with how well the Clippers bench is playing, it could be the more unlikely scenario where his bench plays his way out of the MVP conversation.
Steve Nash passing Magic Johnson and Mark Jackson on the All Time Assists list to move into 3rd. Nash is currently about 400 assists behind Jackson, a total which is less than half of his usual assist totals, yet this is an unusual year for him missing 24 games and playing for the Lakers.
Kobe passing Wilt Chamberlain to move into 4th on the NBA All Time scoring list. Either late this season, or very early next season, Kobe will arrive at 31,419 career points. Wow.
The 2013 LA sports calendar is full of expectations. And expectations means either of 2 scenarios: success or a head coaching vacancy.