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L.A. Monopoly Is a Bored Game


I'm bored. You're bored. The unchallenged Lakers are definitely bored. Clearly, we all need a specialist.

Alan Caruba founded the Boring Institute in 1984, and initially, it lampooned bad movies, bad TV shows, and bad celebrities, but that Herculean task would leave no time for meals or sleep, so nowadays Caruba studies the more serious effects of boredom on society.

Reached Friday afternoon at home in New Jersey, he said he was about to take a nap, making one wonder if he'd just watched film of this sedative we call Trail Blazers-Lakers.

No, he had not. Caruba used to watch boxing, but got bored. "After Round 1 or 2, you know one side's infinitely superior to the other," he said. "Why stick around for the rest of it?"

Missing out on Blazers-Lakers 2002 doesn't preclude Caruba from lending insight, however, once he learns of the details, then reawakens.

On Friday he learned that the twice-defending champions, who play with the transient interest of a team spotting no threat on the horizon, led Game 2 by 21 points in the fourth quarter against a Blazer team flexing its peerless skill in blowing gaskets.

Whether the buzzards overhead were real or imaginary seemed wholly irrelevant.

Soon, however, the Lakers led by only six, which, they soon seemed to realize, felt less preferable than leading by 21.

Whereas theories abound on how this faux suspense could have crept up on such an unsuspecting game, the most persuasive is that the Lakers grew bored.

Tiger Woods doesn't need a rival to amaze, but the Lakers might. They have won 22 of their last 25 playoff games, with one of the losses in overtime after a layoff caused by their own dominance, and another when they got bored in a Game 5 at Indiana, and really, who wouldn't?

They just spent the regular season bored, and now they're spending the playoffs bored.

In fact, to hear Caruba, boredom plants traps far worse even than eyesore games, traps the Lakers cleverly have avoided.

"This is why a lot of sports people get into a lot of trouble with the ladies, with drugs, with anything," he says. "Once you get on top, you start to look for something interesting, once you establish yourself and that nobody around can beat you.

"You don't usually expect to see these guys walking through the local museum soaking up the scientific delights of dinosaurs. They're raised to deal with the physical results of life.

"I'm sympathetic to the degree that by the time these guys hit 30, life is pretty much over for them."

Whew, that's grim. Good thing we're all too bored to dwell on the gloom.

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