So sick of writing about the miserable, wart-infested, woebegone Jim Buss era.
I’d rather not, really. I’d prefer to just let the rest of this season play itself out as quickly and quietly as possible, as the Lakers dress their 8 remaining un-injured guys and finish out the string in a half empty Staples Center. Perhaps we could just wake up in June to the news that they won the draft lottery and will thus have something to show for this abortion of a season in which everything that possibly could go wrong did, and then some. Presently, this team is one pace to win 27 games this year, which would not only be their fewest in my lifetime, but in fact the Lakers’ worst record since they moved here.
Yeah, you heard that right. This is the WORST TEAM IN LOS ANGELES LAKERS HISTORY.
The humiliations are coming fast and furious these days. Yesterday we watched Dwight Howard and the Rockets mosey on in to LA and win by about 120 points and if that wasn’t bad enough, he went ahead and joined in on the “Howard Sucks” chants, just to rub it in.
We also heard from Kevin Love, the supposed future savior of the purple & Gold. Turns out he more or less told a GQ reporter that he isn’t coming here because this team is a joke, and regardless of whether he actually means what he said, he’s not wrong. I mean, enough is enough, already.
Any you know what else? At this point, fuck all the excuses. I know Kobe and Steve Nash have been out all year and everyone else has seemingly taken turns falling down manholes or being struck by lightning and shit. So what, really. Make no mistake here. The Lakers’ abject failure is a result of so much more than that. It starts and ends with management, and it’s failure you better get used to because lil Jimmy ain’t going anywhere.
I’m tired of it. We’ve had three years to witness the slow but thorough erosion that began on the day Phil jackson left town and has now grabbed the Lakers in a full-blown death grip. We watched Jimmy hire Mike Brown to coach a 100 million dollar team full of hall-of-famers to be, and subsequently watched Brown fuck it up so bad that he made it a mere 5 games into his second season. Then, we watched the owner hire the wrong coach for the personnel they had and sit back while said coach promptly alienated not only their supposed future franchise player, but most of the rank and file as well. We gasped in horror as they gave a crippled (and aged) Kobe Bryant 45 million dollars for two more years, which is probably too much to pay a totally healthy Bryant, nevermind the banged up one you see before you now.
And finally, we watched Jimmy Buss do…nothing.
Look, they had 18 months to figure out the Pau Gasol situation. 18 fucking months to either sign him to an extension or trade him for assets. All season long we heard endless reports about what they would do, with some saying they’d keep the roster together and fight, and others claiming they would start shedding salary to get under this years’ luxury tax and get to sucking, all the better for their chances at snagging a high lottery pick. At the end of the day it hardly mattered to me which plan they went with, so long as they chose a definitive course of action. As it says in the Hagakure , (or in Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog”)…
“There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.”
Pardon me for getting all deep on you, but the quote applies here. This is what smart people do. Make up there mind to a certain idea and execute that bitch. Stupid people, or unqualified people, run around with their heads cut off and make rash, ill-conceived decisions.
You know what the Lakers did?
Neither. Or both. Or some of each. I’m not sure, really.
Faced with the prospect of paying into the luxury tax (and thus running the risk of the even greater repeater tax next year) and in this position to avoid it by simply trading away Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill, who are both free agents and likely to leave next year since Kaman spent most of the year on the bench and Hill has no place in D’ Antoni’s offense, the Laker front office spent the last fews days asking for too much for both and were thus left holding the back. In position to save a fortune by trading Pau to Cleveland for Andrew Bynum, the Lakers held onto Pau, insisting that someone give them more than just savings. And held on, and held on. Phoenix came calling, as did Charlotte, and walked away from the bargaining table, convinced that the lakers were asking for too much.
And now, as the trade deadline has passed, Gasol remains in the Lakers’s possession, like a pair of expired movie passes never used. In the position to not only trade Gasol, Kaman and Hill for savings and/or assets, they did neither. What they have now is a team that will cost them an extra 10m or so in luxury tax penalties, lose more games than any other team in Los Angeles Laker history, (only not as many as they would lose if they had traded away Pau, so that instead of getting a top 3 draft pick they’ll likely get one in the 7-9 range), AND will watch half of their players walk away during the summer for nothing, including Gasol, one of the anchors of two NBA title teams and by all accounts one of the classiest guys to ever play here.
Just let all of this failure sink in for a minute. I’ll wait.
So yeah, who needs this? I understand the idea of team loyalty (no matter how foolish a concept), and I’m all for being patient when patience is warranted, but as this incredible failure snowball gathers steam, you might want to ask yourself a simple question.
Why am I still rooting for this team?
If your answer is no more complex than, “because I’ve always been a Laker fan”, it might be time for us to sit down and have a chat wherein I inform you that this team in no way, shape, or form resembles the Lakers we’ve known. No, the only thing that ties this team to the ones of the past is geography, the uniform and the bloodlines of the man who owned it.
You see, that team was run by a smart man. A gambler. A Visionary. Above all, a guy with enough sense to stay out of the way and let the smarter people, the ones who actually know Basketball, run things for him. That guy preached loyalty and family and delivered on his word. Oh, and that guy won a shitload.
This guy in charge now? Well, his only qualification would appear to be birthright. He is the guy who let his jealousy run Phil Jackson out of town. The dude who let his lack of understanding of the sport allow him to fire the entire Lakers’ scouting department and replace them with his buddies. The smart fella who held onto Pau Gasol too long and will now watch him leave for nothing.
You see, everything Jim Buss touches turns to shit, and at this point I’m just tired of it. No mas.
As for the rest of you well, you are free to do as you choose, but a word of warning. As long as this team is run by Jim Buss they are doomed, and as of right now there is no reason to think he’s leaving anytime soon.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.