The Seattle SuperSonics became the latest team to fall under the heels of the reigning back-to-back National Basketball Assn. champion Lakers, so what did the beaten visitors think was the telling edge?
The magic of Magic?
The eternal grace of the Big Fella?
The brilliance of James Worthy?
Nope, the way the Sonics figured, they lost Sunday's Game 1 of the West Conference semifinals for a reason closer to home.
"We just kind of gave it away," Dale Ellis said.
Backup center Olden Polynice, a budding successor to Greg Kite, Kevin McHale \o7 et. al. \f7 as Forum Heavy of the Week, noted that "We had 'em," and added this assessment of the proud Lakers who ache to be remembered with the best teams ever:
"They definitely looked beatable."
Xavier McDaniel sniffed at the Laker press. ("I think their press is not that great, we just didn't attack it the way we normally do.") Coach Bernie Bickerstaff, asked what he thought about his team's unforced-errors theme, said: "They're in tune," indicating he was in full agreement, and had probably preached that in his post-game sermon before reporters were admitted.
"What we want the Lakers to do is beat us," Bickerstaff said.
"Well, the score obviously indicates they did," Bickerstaff said.
But he thinks the Sonics beat themselves?
"Well, I think we had a lot to do with it, when you talk about unforced errors. If it's a hell of a game and two teams play well, fine. I think what happened is the thing you're concerned about when you come in from Houston and you don't have a lot of time to prepare.
"Give the Lakers credit. Hey, they know what to do. They know how to play. Obviously, the incentive is there. They've been written off by the media."
The term \o7 unforced error \f7 is common in tennis, but may be a little more controversial in basketball, because you can bet your Chick Hearn T-shirt with the Chick-ism on the front that the Lakers think they deserve some credit for those 21 Seattle turnovers . . . and those six consecutive trips the Sonics made upcourt in the third period without getting a shot to the backboard, when the game began to turn.
"I'm not going to say they beat us because of some decision they made defensively," said Ellis, having shot six for 15 and contributed six of the turnovers.
"Whenever you trap like that, somebody's going to be open and it's just a matter of moving the ball.
"Do I remember my turnovers? Very vividly. Just mishandling the ball, you know? Just mishandling the ball. You can't do that in the playoffs, but we're not a veteran team like the Lakers."
Seattle's other great star, McDaniel, got in foul trouble and finished with 15 points, although he found time for five turnovers of his own.
X knew what the problem was, and it wasn't Michael Cooper, either.
"We just didn't attack the press the way we normally do," McDaniel said. "We didn't get it into the creases. We tried to make cross-court passes and they were picking 'em off. We've just got to move it around the horn."
Put it down to emotion. The Sonics looked through a window of Laker vulnerability Sunday, and swooned or got run down in the clutch, which is not how you beat reigning back-to-back NBA champions. In their disappointment, many of them forgot to say all the wonderful things about the Lakers that they doubtless feel.
After all, they see the Lakers a lot and they know what's going on.
"We played them a couple of years ago in the Western Conference finals," Ellis said. "We thought we could have beaten them a couple of games (the Lakers swept, 4-0). There were a couple of games that could have gone either way.
"We just feel, now they're a couple years older and we're a couple years more mature. We can definitely beat 'em. We just feel confident we can beat anybody in the league."
Sunday, the SuperSonics met the enemy, but in retrospect, they aren't sure it turned out to be the Lakers.
Wednesday, when they'll meet in Game 2, the enemy \o7 will\f7 be the Lakers, so then we'll see.