It’s All About Expectations

My wife won’t even watch movie previews anymore. On Sunday night, a preview for The Hangover Part II came on TV, and she nearly sprinted out of the room covering her ears like this. She’s been let down too many times by potentially great movies (most notably Due Date) that haven’t lived up to expectations. We’ve all been duped by a movie or two where you’ve already seen every funny scene in the film because they were all in the previews. There’s usually one way to go when expectations get high.

Human beings’ emotions are closely tied to their previously held expectations. When you pay a lot of money for something, be it a product, service, or food, you expect it to be of a higher quality. When your kobe steak (no pun intended) from BOA tastes like you could’ve

[caption id="attachment_62" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Who isn't happy when this happens? "][/caption]

had the same at Black Angus, you might get a little frustrated. Conversely, when the Cinderella team at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament wins a game or two, everyone loves it. Underdogs are never expected.

But we humans are forced by our brains to form expectations of future events based on past knowledge. Remember in high school when you would ask everyone in the period before you what type of questions were on the geometry test? You might've gotten your hopes up because you were told there were a lot of questions about circles instead of triangles, and you are a master with circles. You walk into the classroom, feeling confident, only to to have your world come crashing down when your teacher has given this class a different test, with almost no circle questions on it. Although you still might be able to do well, you're still going to be upset at the end of the test.

Expectations are abundant in the sports world. The better team is expected to win the game. A team is expected to win more games at home than on the road. In the playoffs, the better seed is expected to win the series. Legendary teams are expected to vie for the championship each year.

Fans of the New York Yankees, Manchester United, Detroit Red Wings, etc. know what I'm

[caption id="attachment_57" align="alignright" width="188" caption="Nothing less than one of these will do for Lakers fans"][/caption]

talking about. Lakers fans have an expectation for the outcome of the season that no other team's fan base shares. Timberwolves fans might expect just to be entertained, or maybe to win a few more games than the last season. Thunder fans might be hopeful to win the championship, but they definitely expected to win a playoff series.

Often times, expectations help to keep teams at a high level, as players, coaches, and management are often compelled to live up to expectations. But as we all know, these same expectations can leave us devastated when the expected outcome doesn't come to fruition.

Many expectations  came crashing down in Monday night's Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks. You expect the Lakers to win their home playoff games. You expect the Lakers to win the

[caption id="attachment_58" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Even Kobe expected to make the last shot"][/caption]

game when they have a 16 point lead. You expect the Lakers to capitalize on their size advantage and use Bynum as a priority. You expect to get the benefit of the doubt on close calls as the home team, or at least to have the officials make the same exact call nearly 10 seconds later. You expect Phil Jackson to have Lamar Odom guard Nowitzki on the last possession instead of Pau Gasol. And lastly, you expect Kobe Bryant to make the game winning shot.

But as we've seen with this Lakers team, they can still win despite how and when you might have expected it to happen. Everyone expected the Lakers to sweep the Hornets. Obviously that didn't happen, but the series was still won. They've got Lakers fans on an emotional roller coaster, losing frustrating games at home as well as winning convincing games on the road. The "Jekyll and Hyde" nature of this 2010-2011 Lakers team can only leave us knowing one thing: expect the unexpected.

- Mark Slattery Writer

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