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Hate is such a strong word.
But it's the one Jazz poet Deron Williams uses to put a wrap on his feelings about the Los Angeles Lakers as in, I hate those guys!, or, more precisely, I hate those %#$@&$% guys! and … who can blame him?
Kobe and the Lakers have given the ubercompetitive Williams the heave-ho in each of the past three postseasons, dashing his dreams without giving so much as a sniff of respect in return. Only defeat and elimination.
The playoff record over that span: 12 losses, three wins, a hundred sleepless nights.
Williams has had his fill.
"I hate 'em, you know," he said the other day. "I hate the Lakers. They're so good. I hate them because they win all the time. They're a tough team. … We definitely talk about it. It's not a secret. We hate the Lakers."
The new Jazz team sobriquet: Laka Hatas.
It was the great Shakespeare wasn't it? who wrote: "In time we hate that which we often fear."
And it was the even greater Yoda who said: "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
The Jazz collectively have had their share of fear, anger, hate and suffering at the Lakers' hands.
Williams said he is making a point of passing the ill will along to all Jazz newcomers, as though the emotion is as much a part of team identity as the fresh/retro Jazz logo.
Do Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward and Earl Watson and Raja Bell know the drill?
"If they don't," Williams said, "they will."
Bell already has demonstrated via his actions on the court his stiff attitude regarding the team that wanted him to come over to the dark side in the offseason. Instead, he came home to the Jazz. Few have stood up to Bryant in the manner Raja has.
If hate has a competitive, physical manifestation, it comes in the form of Bell's past pugnacious defense on Kobe.
Jefferson said he's quickly throttling up toward the Laker disdain he's supposed to feel here.
"Hate 'em," he said. "At least, now I do. My teammates hate 'em, I hate 'em. I have respect for them. But I've got to get on that page. You've got to beat them to win a championship. So … I hate 'em. Hate 'em."
Normally, hate is a stupid notion in sports. There's already too much hate in the world, too much concocted negative emotion that in the case of heated rivalries is ridiculously overblown.
With the Jazz and Lakers, maybe a pass is warranted.
"Three straight playoff losses," C.J. Miles reminds all.
Look up the verb hate in the dictionary and this is what you'll find: Dislike intensely; feel antipathy or aversion toward; detest; abhor; abominate; execrate; loathe; find repugnant; despise; scorn.
Sounds about right for what's been seen at any recent Jazz-Lakers game at EnergySolutions Arena. If there's a person in the NBA that Jazz fans despise or abhor or feel antipathy for more than Bryant, who exactly would it be?
David Stern doesn't count.
Neither does Dick Bavetta.
Derek Fisher does, but that's part of the greater whole, a much more complicated deal than a lot of the national and certainly the L.A. media has taken the time to understand. It's easier to simply designate fans here as hypocrites and barbarians.
Phil Jackson also counts, but, then, that tosses more nitroglycerin on the same fire. The emotion aimed at Jackson goes back another generation of nastiness to Jordan's Bulls. It may never simmer.
Even Jerry Sloan, who pays respect to the Lakers, has his issues with them, trailing all the way back to his days as a player in Chicago, when he went up against some stellar L.A. teams. "Had to play against [Jerry West]," Sloan said. "Got my ass kicked."
Miles throws in with all the Laker loathing, he said, "100 percent."
"They're a great team," he explained, "but we don't like them. And I'm pretty sure they don't like us. That's the way it's supposed to be."
The only way, of course, to tamp down the ugliness around here, to douse it, is to actually beat the Lakers.
"It's a great motivator," Miles said. "We're young and hungry, we want to win. And they're standing in our way. Can't go over them. Can't go around them. There's only one way left through them."
The Jazz did exactly that back in the Stockton-and-Malone years, including 1998, when they swept L.A. in the Western Conference finals. Whether they can do it now is a huge question, a difficult, unlikely proposition.
"We're in better position to challenge the Lakers this year than we have been in the past," Williams said. "We're tougher."
They'll have to be.
Hate, no matter how justified or deep-rooted or motivating, will never be enough. If it were, the Jazz would have stopped the suffering a long time ago.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Gordon Monson Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 The Zone. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.