Charles Barkley has said some dumb things in his life. Quite a few of them, in fact. Still, we can’t get over Barkley’s comment on TNT Thursday night about the Los Angeles Lakers. The Inside the NBA analyst told television viewers around the country that he was “not gonna eat another meal until the Lakers win again.” Although Barkley quickly followed up with “Let me rethink that,” his ill-advised promise got us thinking. If the “Round Mound of Rebound” followed through on his vow, could the L.A. Lakers actually be responsible for the starvation of Charles Barkley?
As you likely know by now, the Lakers are off to a very rough start to their 2014-15 season. They lost two rotation players for the year before the first night was even over (Steve Nash and Julius Randle), they have an inexperienced and largely talentless core around Kobe Bryant, and they’ve dropped their first five games by an average margin of nearly 15 points per contest. For a proud and storied franchise that’s only missed the playoffs three times in the last 38 seasons, these are historically bad times in Hollywood. In fact, the last time the Lakers started a season 0-5, the franchise was still based in its initial home of Minneapolis, where there are, well, lakes.
The problem for L.A. — and, by extension, for the hungering Mr. Barkley — is that there’s no indication things will get better anytime soon. Five of the next eight games on the Lakers’ schedule are away from Staples Center, and the home opponents over that span include undefeated Golden State and defending champion San Antonio. If Los Angeles can’t figure out how to stop the slide this Sunday night when Charlotte comes to town, Barkley’s self-imposed hunger strike (not that we expect him to go with it) could quickly increase in scope from days to weeks.
Or, as TNT imagined Barkley’s less-than-pleasant diet plan unfolding…
How TNT projects Charles Barkley’s fast until the Lakers win pic.twitter.com/3LPL8Xb8TR
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 7, 2014
It’s bad enough to have to calculate how much longer Kobe and the 16-time champion Lakers might remain winless this season, but, at this point, it’s also very possible that the purple and gold could become the last team in the NBA to pick up a victory. Only two ballclubs are still 0-fer after a week-and-a-half of the NBA season: The Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers. While the Sixers have made their plans for tanking abundantly clear, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that the Lakers could even be worse this year than a team whose obvious goal is to be as bad as possible. (Philadelphia at least took Orlando to the buzzer before falling Wednesday to drop to 0-5.) The good news for Lakers fans hoping not to become the only team in the NBA without a win is that Philly’s upcoming schedule seems brutal: Eastern Conference co-leader Chicago at home, followed by a four-game roadie, including three straight in Texas.
The bottom line is that whether the Lakers are the last team in the Association to get in the win column or the second-to-last, it doesn’t change the cold, hard facts: This is a bad basketball team that will struggle to win many games, even with Kobe Bryant determined to single-handedly carry his franchise to competitiveness. (Heaven forbid that the wear and tear take its toll on the Mamba’s health over the next few months, too: Who else on the roster is possibly going to score?) And, while Charles Barkley may have just been kidding around, if there’s even a tiny chance he wasn’t, things might not end well for Sir Charles. Because, while we’d like to say he can at least eat Thanksgiving dinner (which comes after L.A.’s fifteenth contest of the year), with the way the Lakers have looked through the first five games, we’re not promising anything.