The Los Angeles Lakers are in big trouble. Not against the Dallas Mavericks. Whatever is 10 feet deeper than big trouble in playoff parlance, that's where the Lakers are down 3-0 in their second-round battle with the Mavs.
No, the big trouble they're in is beyond this season. Old, capped out with vast changes in leadership afoot, the team's faithful is already turning its desperate eyes toward Dwight Howard and Deron Williams and every other young star, hoping they'll make their way to Hollywood to rejuvenate or replace the Lakers' expensive and worn-out parts.
That may be as wildly optimistic as expecting the Lakers to reach the Finals a fourth straight time.
Hey, I'm as guilty as anyone of refusing to fully take note of history. Or an array of clear warning signs over the course of the season. I wrote about them, I talked about them, but I refused to fully believe they would come to bear.
But the fact is, no team has gone to the Finals four straight times with the same core. Certainly not in the last 20 years.