If the Lakers ever get too jaded by their success, assistant coaches Kurt Rambis and Brian Shaw will be shaking their heads.
Rambis and Shaw played on Lakers teams that ran out to sparkling records and found ways to stay interested during the long, winding road of the regular season.
Rambis was a sharp-elbowed power forward on teams in the 1980s that started out 25-9, 24-10, 33-9 and 45-9 on the way to winning championships. Shaw was a veteran guard earlier this decade when the Lakers started out 31-5 and 28-9 before winning titles.
For them, it was never a problem to maintain an edge.
"I loved to compete, I loved to play hard and I loved to see the faces of the players that we played against, and see the frustration, the bewilderment, the lack of confidence," Rambis said. "We didn't believe in showing any team any mercy. I don't know how you could ever get bored just playing."
Shaw said there were plenty of ways to keep things interesting, should the present-day Lakers (27-6) need any, especially in the wake of a 116-105 loss Tuesday to New Orleans.
"I think you just have to find different challenges along the way," he said. "Best record in the division, best record in your conference, best record in the league, and just kind of keep track of the teams that are close behind you or ahead of you. There's also a motivation of trying to keep a [winning] streak going. Maybe one of the things is how many can we string together, little things like that."
Shaw was in his 11th NBA season when the Lakers won the 2000 championship, the first of three in a row for the franchise.
"The first year that we had success, most of the guys had never gone that far, so it wasn't that difficult to not be bored," Shaw said. "This team's a little bit different because they went to the Finals last year, so they have this tendency to be like, 'OK, we're in the regular season, when are we going to get to the good part and get to the playoffs?' "
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson would keep the 2000, 2001 and 2002 teams occupied with non-basketball activities, Shaw said.
"We were doing tai chi, yoga, we were meditating all the time," he said. "First, everybody was like, 'What's this that he has us doing?' We won 19 in a row, then we lost, then we won 16 in a row right after that. So it was like, maybe this stuff is working. Everybody bought into it."
Jackson hasn't resorted to such activities this season, though there is an overriding reason not to become blase.
Said Rambis: "We're not done growing as a team."
For the first 20 games, when Vladimir Radmanovic was the starting small forward, he was upbeat and personable.
When he was yanked from the starting lineup and sent to the bench, his mood changed. He went into a funk after Luke Walton started in his place.
Radmanovic was back in the starting lineup against New Orleans because Walton was out with a sore right foot.
Jackson noticed a change in Radmanovic when he was seated on the bench.
"He hasn't handled it very well," Jackson said. "But I think that he's come out of it OK. It was really difficult for him. The reason and rationale behind it I think from a personal standpoint was something he had to figure out."
It didn't help that Radmanovic didn't play the next two games after he lost his spot.
Jackson eventually spoke with him.
"That's not the end-all for the way he felt," Jackson said. "We talked a couple of times. I think it's about playing. He wants to play. He wants to perform. He knows he's not performing well, but wants to."
Radmanovic had three points against New Orleans.
Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.