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|Topic||Replies|| ||Views|| ||Rating|| ||Poster|| ||Date|| ||Time|
| Lakers 2013 Draft Thread ||158|| ||6006|| ||
|| ||LALayup|| ||May, 22|| ||12:22|
| The Official Free Agent Ideas Thread ||1795|| ||160019|| ||
|| ||Kannaps|| ||May, 22|| ||12:17|
| Phil Jackson Laughed at D'Antoni hire ||1|| ||60|| ||
|| ||TimmyDoe|| ||May, 22|| ||12:15|
| Phil Jackson Skeptical That Howard Has Reason to Return ||9|| ||610|| ||
|| ||lakerXpeat|| ||May, 22|| ||12:07|
| Official Dwight Howard 2013 Free Agency News/Rumors ||387|| ||19144|| ||
|| ||Katie|| ||May, 22|| ||12:06|
| Official Fire Mike D'Antoni Thread ||264|| ||12716|| ||
|| ||Katie|| ||May, 22|| ||11:32|
| Jordan (1A+) - Bryant (1A) ||25|| ||1157|| ||
|| ||ralppcobarde|| ||May, 22|| ||11:30|
| How Far Do Lakers Bow Down to Appease Howard? ||32|| ||1314|| ||
|| ||lakerdudeinindy|| ||May, 22|| ||10:32|
| Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol Good Example to the Lakers ||45|| ||1976|| ||
|| ||Kannaps|| ||May, 21|| ||19:05|
| Possible Lakers Free-agent Targets ||63|| ||5201|| ||
|| ||TERRY-TEAGLE|| ||May, 21|| ||13:33|
| Pau Gasol Trade Thread: News, Rumors, Discussions ||1637|| ||157894|| ||
|| ||LALayup|| ||May, 21|| ||10:21|
| Phil Jackson's New Book: Eleven Rings ||20|| ||1247|| ||
|| ||LALayup|| ||May, 21|| ||10:15|
| Kobe Bryant Surprise Announcement? ||72|| ||8897|| ||
|| ||dub4twenty|| ||May, 20|| ||17:57|
| Kobe Bryant's Top 10 Plays/Dunks of 2012/2013 ||14|| ||442|| ||
|| ||BaadMaster|| ||May, 20|| ||15:41|
| Do You Give a Non Max Player Max Dollars? ||43|| ||1679|| ||
|| ||lakernet79|| ||May, 19|| ||16:05|
| The Official Offseason Plan Thread ||809|| ||101085|| ||
|| ||sevankb24|| ||May, 19|| ||15:19|
| What's Next for the Lakers? ||1|| ||451|| ||
|| ||renteria24|| ||May, 19|| ||09:37|
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Do you give a non max player max dollars?
Posted by: SPQR on Monday, April 29, 2013 - 11:14 PM
I want to start off by saying this is neither pro-Dwight article nor even an anti-Dwight post. It is an honest look at the ramifications of keeping him or letting him go. It is a look we as fans and more especially the FO needs to take, long and deep, before they decide what they would like to do. Its a look that in light of this last season, they should have, evaluate and discuss, more than once, in an effort to start turning around what happened to this team in 2013 and hopefully make sure the near and mid future is not tainted by more mistakes added to those of the last few years. In the end, I will of course give my opinion for what it is worth. An opinion I actually have changed in just the last day.|
With the Lakers season mercifully at an end, now all eyes turn to the offseason and how does this team respond to the calamity that just enveloped them? Will some players stay and who if anyone will go?
Then of course there is the big question, will Dwight Howard resign with the team after a season he himself termed a nightmare?
But perhaps the question shouldnt be, will Dwight resign with the Lakers but instead be inverted to: should the Lakers offer Dwight Howard that max contract?
Prevailing opinion is that Howard will sign with the Lakers, simply because we can offer him the most money. Yet after a season where he never performed up to anyones expectations, there is a train of thought and logic that suggests perhaps it may be best for the Lakers to move in a different direction.
When you think of max money contacts, it brings to the minds eye certain players, legends in fact: Magic Johnson, Jabbar, Moses Malone, Shaq, Hakeem, Kobe, Bird, Jordan, Lebron and others of that ilk. Yes all players with a flaw or two, but whose brilliance and mastery were so great they made you forget any deficiencies of mind or skill set that they may have had. They were so great, all you saw in the end was the greatness. They were max players who deserved max contracts.
But when you put Howards name there, its like taking that word test, Which word does not belong? It is very obvious Howard is the word and the player who is out of his league when you think max player.
Howard does bring a certain skill set we all know. He is a tremendous rebounder and defender. He is very athletic. He certainly is one of the best centers in ball today, probably the best. But when you throw up his flaws you see how he pales in comparison to the players conjured up by the term max player. He cannot shoot free throws. This not only makes him untenable to finish off games but hurts the team all game long. He continually commits stupid fouls. He turns the ball over at an alarming rate. He tends to pout and take plays and even games off if things are not going his way. His offense repertoire is very limited for man in the league so long. It is when you add and sum up all those flaws, you realize if players like Kobe, Kareem, Lebron and others are max players, then Howard has to be by logic and extrapolation something less than that.
There is also another issue with Howard that goes beyond his game limitations. He seems to be devoid of the cool demeanor and killer instinct that goes with being a top notch player, a max player. In our debacle against San Antonio, while I never for a moment thought we could win the series, I was looking for the Kobeless Howard to step up, fight like cornered animal, show us why he is worth the money and the title max player. Yet again, he came up short. He didnt have on transcendent game, not in one game of that series did he look a great player determined to step up against overwhelming odds and go down fighting and throwing his best game at his tormentors, like great players will do. Instead, at the end, meekly, he seemed to take the easy way out, getting a double technical and leaving in the third quarter of last Lakers game of the season with a grand total of seven points. The term max player didnt cross my mind watching that, nor the series, nor his entire year here.
That is the crux of the other Howard problem. Despite his formidable body of work over the years, in the end, it seems his signature move in the NBA is not rising to the occasion but falling back from it, hiding, slipping away; the antithesis of Kobe, a Bird, a Magic, a Jordan, a max player.
Somewhere along the line, in the last few years, it seems LA and its fans somehow equated Dwight Howard as the centerpiece of a title, the sine qua non, the essential part that would ensure more rings. Yet nothing his career indicated that so much weight should ascribed to him, including the nine teams that have won titles in the years Howard has been in the league, all of whom didnt have Dwight on their team. So how did Howard become such an indispensible part of a championship team when he never has been one in his nine years in pro ball? How did that theory take hold and gain such currency with the Lakers fans and front office? Why is HE, above all others, now so vital to us winning championships?
This last season was an object lesson in what happens to a team when the front office places bad bets, when it misunderstands what is smart with what mysteriously becomes commonly accepted currency, such as signing a 38 year old to play point guard in an 82 game season on a team that was too old to begin with.
Now Howard will never be mistaken for a 38 year old, but the cautionary tale still applies: Be careful who you throw that kind of money at. You better be sure he is exactly what you thought you were getting. He better be worth it.
In the end, that begs the most important question of the offseason: Is Dwight Howard really worth it? Does he really bring such a strong promise of championships? Is a non max player really worth max money to this team?
If we sign Howard this team automatically goes over 80 million dollars over the luxury tax. Now considering our TV contract, yes it can afford it. But there is another way to look at this too, two more questions to ask itself: First, is he really worth it? Is he going to bring us so very close to a title? Is he worth max money to keep? Second, if you dont sign him, what else can you do with that money? Can you sign two terrific players with it, or three? Or one and many very good players? In other words, it may not be so difficult to imagine a scenario where in the end the Lakers would be better served, both financially and with on court performance to use such profligate spending in another direction, that it doesnt have to be tied with a ball and chain to Dwight Howard.
Mitch has made it clear he wants Howard back so I take him at his word. That will mean a max contract for a player who far less than max in ability or temperament. Will that be the correct move? The organization better hope, really, really hard that it is. Because if its not, then the damage will go on for longer than you can imagine.
I can see Dwight Howard, if surrounded by two other really good players helping this team to some very good seasons. I cant see him doing it alone, like a max player should. I can also see this team using the Howard money in a different direction and actually being better than if they kept him. That is essence, are the two sides to the question at hand. Which way do you go? Pay a non max player the max and hope you surround with enough good players to overcome his flaws, or go full bore in an entirely different direction.
I do have to say, both from a business standpoint and the on court production ideal, there is something I find repugnant and untenable in signing such a flawed player to a contract I dont think he really should have. Its kind of like being blackmailed or held up at gunpoint. You feel you are being cheated or robbed or hoodwinked. Kobe wants the max? Sure. Magic? Give it up. Lebron? Hand it over, to all of them with a smile. You damn well know what youre getting and are happy to get it: a winner, a killer, a GREAT, a max player. Possible titles. But with Howard? Really? Do you really want to invest that kind of money and the future of your team in him? Not so easy to hand that money over when you really think about him.
There is a danger to get obsessed with doing everything and anything to keep one single player, especially a player who does not stand with the games best but has through desire and circumstance developed a patina that shines far brighter than his true worth. As we have seen this year, before you start to throw money at guys like we just did and apparently are willing to again with Howard, you better be sure your getting what youre paying for or you will pay big time for what you get.
Will Howard be worth that money or will it be just another error rushed into by the front office. It looks like it will end up being Dwight Howard who will have the final answer on that one, both in whether he accepts our offer and what he does after words, if he does.
Just the other day, I agree with a friend of mine that we should sign Dwight Howard. I thought out of all the players on this team, he was the one guy you really wanted to keep. But the other night, Reggie Miller was asked in the waning moments of our game four loss to San Antonio a very interesting question: Would you sign Dwight to the max deal if you were the Lakers? He said he would not, because Dwight wasnt worth it. That got me to thinking, hard. It also got me to change my mind as I turned over the ramifications, the pros and cons of keeping himand letting him go. I have to admit, after what Miller said, after what I have seen this year, plus his career so far, what he brings to the team and what he doesnt, in the end, if I owned the Lakers, Howard would never get that chance to resign with the Lakers. I think there might be, must be, a smarter, better way to spend that money, not just this year, but over time than on a player who has failed in so many ways, on so many days, as Howard has.
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Kobes achilles roles the final snake eyes on FO's gamble.
Posted by: SPQR on Saturday, April 13, 2013 - 01:01 PM
In last nights game against Golden State, the iron body of Kobe Bryant finally did what all bodies do over time, bend and break to the ineluctable entropy of age and all that comes with it.|
To see Kobes season and very possibly his career end because of injury was as shocking as seeing a mid July snowstorm because it is something that just doesnt happen, not an event you even consider nor plan for because years of experience tells you it just is a flat out impossibility.
This sad event and the repercussions it has on this team, not just now, but for the future was the final result of a very strange gamble played by the Lakerss FO in the offseason when they decided to throw the dice on making a team that was already too old to win a title even older.
By keeping Pau, Metta and adding Nash and Jamison to the roster the Lakers picked up the dice and threw them in the most precarious game of craps a front office has decided to play in years with a major sports franchise of the stature of the Los Angeles Lakers.
For this gamble to succeed, Team Geriatric had to somehow overcome two distinct problems: How does a team this old and unathletic possible shore up and Improve on the defensive deficiencies that eliminated them from the playoffs the last two years and how reliable will a team populated with so many older players hold up physically to the grind and torture test of the 82 game season?
And in the big gamble that we took the answer to both questions was not the hoped for result. By mid season it was apparent that the gamble on defense, really more of an unrequited, impossible prayer than gamble would not come to pass. The defense was paying a price for double down on age and any attempt at achieving a championship style on that end of the court was extinguished for good. At that point the question became could this old team play offense good enough to salvage some type of season that didnt end in abject humiliation?
That answer came too. The injuries mounted faster than a triage unit at a war front. Pau, Metta, Nash and Kobe all suffered injuries that kept them out of games, effecting our performance and standings in season where every game was life and death in the razor thin playoff race we found ourselves engaged in. It is no coincidence that all these players are in their mid thirties or over and received a lions share of the playing time. It is also no coincidence that the one older player who was relatively injury free was Jamison, a player who got limited playing time. On a team that had no defense to fall back on, losing these players for stretches of the season which not only hurt game to game performance but was a stopper for developing team chemistry was catastrophic. When the Lakers put together this team it seemed a blithe thing, an exercise in hopes and dreams, a desperate gamble more than smart foresight. They gambled that somehow we could play representative defense and they gambled that Team Geriatric could navigate the full season without suffering from any substantive injuries. They lost both gambles and now here we are.
The immediate concern of course is Kobe. You know he will work to rehabilitate his injury as hard as any athlete ever has in professional sports. Its just his nature. If he were 22 or 26 or 28 or 32 one could bet he would overcome this injury and return as the same force of nature he always has been. But at 35 next year, one wonders not what Kobe will allow but what his body can still give. It is these kinds of injuries to athletes of just that age that spell the final turning point in many great athletic careers.
The blame game will begin now. As I watched Kobe last night get physically pounded and mauled, first one leg then the other, I was wincing. My heart went out to this indefatigable, heroic warrior who never stopped battling no matter the pain or circumstance. You could almost see it coming. There he was, a 34 year old proud lion fighting like mad to keep his territory against his attackers who kept snapping and clawing at him, his body literally coming apart right in front of my eyes; yet nothing was done, no surcease asked by him nor offered to him. He fought like a beast, determined to keep his dominance, bloody, but giving it back in every measure in a war he not only fought, but welcomed with gusto and pride.
Should DAntoni given him more rest, not just last night, but all season long? Should he have had more faith in a team that actually played well in Kobes earlier absence? Should Kobe have asked for more rest all season long and should he have spelled himself in last nights games as his body started falling apart?
It is easy to cast blame now, on both men. But how does DAntoni pull or spell a legend like Bryant when he so obviously wants to keep playing, when he insists all is fine and DAntoni wants to win with his best player on the floor? And how can one blame Kobe when he, the ultimate warrior, the one who knows his body better than anyone else, tells the coach he can stay in the games, wants to stay in the games, keep playing the minutes; that he his fine?
Blame comes after the fact. Both men wanted to win, to try making this team and its finish something better than what had transpired for most of the season. Can you blame them for wanting that? Im sure many will, but if you ask Kobe, he will be the first to tell you that nobody is to blame for the fact that both he and his coach wanted him in games for all those minutes. Maybe in the individual case of Kobe Bryant and what happened last night, nobody really is to blame but Father Time.
I wont get into the blame game because I understand the mentality of both Kobe and DAntoni: We are in it to win it and the rest be damned. In my view there is no blame for that attitude or the attempt to achieve it. You throw the dice. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
If one is to cast blame on the season and what happened last night, I would go way back to summer when for some inexplicable reason, the front office rejected reality and decided that more age was the answer to what ailed this team in the first place. They put the team in a position where old, very old players would log large minutes. The result was not all that surprising. They should have seen it coming.
With Kobes injury the final denouement has been written on Team Geriatric in the most shocking, frightening and saddest of terms. It was chilling to see coming, it was ugly to watch and sad to take, especially with valiant effort of Kobe and this team to make the playoffs in the last week that for the first time all season really got ones blood pumping in the effort given.
That sound you heard last night was not just the snap of Kobes Achilles, but the final role of the FOs dice. That look of distress on Mitchs face was not just the loss of his best player, the lion of the Lakers, but the long, exhausted stare of a man who knows what he has rolled on his final throw of the dice. That he has crapped out: snake eyes. You lose, Mitch. You lose, Jim. You lost, Jerry. You lost the season and you lost Kobe because you put him in a situation that forced the events of last night. A win at all cost game on a team that never had a chance to cruise through games or the season.
Now we must hope the team can continue on, play with the same energy and enthusiasm it has shown in the last week. The end of Kobes season is not the end of the Lakers season. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, what they can make of this situation. Their leader and best player is gone, but they still have pride and talent, albeit aged, to make this ending and perhaps the playoffs at least an exciting finish far better than the desultory majority of the season we witnessed.
When this season ends, whether it be next week or sometime in the playoffs, the FO will be forced to pick up the hot dice again and begin making new throws. Because thats the situation now. This team will never compete for a title again. When it does, we will be watching and rooting and talking about a whole different group of players doing their thing. These new throws will begin to determine when and if the Lakers will someday be in championship contention again.
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What this Lakers fan worries about and what he doesn’t anymore.
Posted by: SPQR on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 03:26 PM
Reading the game day thread during and after the Dallas game, it was interesting to notice some of the very optimistic opinions of the team. Because the team is playing better now and on the heels of that road win, some comments really caught my eye. Two that come to mind were, “This team will be invincible by the end of the season,” and “We will win the title.”|
Of course after the Denver reality check, the see-saw continues again, this time on the downward slide, to despair. And so it goes in a very bad season. Up and down, hope then despair. And many fans hope we make the playoffs, thinking that this team’s talent will come to the fore and we will finally become what so many expected before the season started.
But this Lakers fan doesn’t worry about making the playoffs. Nor did I really care about the win in Dallas or worry about the loss in Denver. Because long ago, it became apparent that it doesn’t matter if we make the playoffs or not. Either way, this team is not going to win a title or even come close to it. It doesn’t matter if we beat sub 500 Dallas or even if we had beaten Denver. Because to win an NBA title, you don’t go through Dallas or Denver. You go through Memphis, San Antonio, OKC to finally arrive at the real monster of the NBA, Miami. And they are not Dallas or Denver. None of them are.
It doesn’t matter if we make the playoffs. Not this year, or next year. Because we can’t win the title this year or next year. We will never win another title in the Kobe Bryant era. Because time has passed him and this team by. It happens to every team and it’s happened to these Lakers. Kobe Bryant is still a great player. But he is not what he was. When we were winning titles, he was the best player in ball. He was that one insurmountable obstacle that other teams could not overcome; the edge we held over everyone. Now that edge is gone forever. Durant is better than Kobe and Lebron plays in a different league than Kobe. There are other players who are as good or better.
After the last two seasons of playoff ejection, it was obvious this team had to be overhauled. And it was. But not the way it needed to be. After the last two seasons, we all discussed what needed to be done on LTB in dozens of threads and thousands of posts. And the vast majority of those posts said it correctly: We needed to get younger and more athletic, especially on defense, if we were going to take a step back up the ladder of contention. But oddly, for strange reasons known only to them, the FO ignored all the certain, immutable empirical data that screamed for youth and speed and decided to double down on age. Instead of shipping Metta and Pau for younger players or draft picks, we kept them. Instead of trading draft picks for younger players, we gave them away for Methuselah Steve Nash, who at 38 was so old one could call him Eve Ash, because that is all that is left of him. They backed that up by signing a 36 year old Antwan Jamison.
That is not to say smarter moves would have brought us another title. Even with some spectacular moves, the fact remains, in all likelihood, the Lakers would have only been able to secure a holding pattern, like the Spurs have the last half decade. The Spurs have in essence, the same problem we have. Their transcendent star, Tim Duncan is no longer the best player in the game. So despite the workings of the best FO in the business, even they could not resurrect the championship days in San Antonio. They best they can do is hold their altitude with good teams, smart teams, fun teams, winning teams, but not teams good enough to win the title.
But the Lakers FO couldn’t even manage that. By ignoring the problems that were so obvious, by deciding to add more age in the persons of Eve Ash and Jamison to a team already listing so badly because of age and lack of youth, speed and defense, they effectively put the final nail in Lakers coffin, even to the extent of ending any prospect of Kobe finishing out on representative teams like Duncan will.
So we will not become a team that can come within shouting distance of a San Antonio, a Memphis, a Indiana. Nor will we even come within sight of an OKC or the iron fisted ruler of the NBA, the once and future champion Miami Heat.
So it really doesn’t matter if we beat a Dallas or lose to Denver. And I don’t worry about it. Because time and mismanagement have ended the Kobe Bryant era with complete finality.
So I don’t worry about whether we will make the playoffs, just to lose to one of the many better teams. In fact, in a normal year, I would root for them to lose so a much needed high draft pick would come. Because man, we really, really need it. I have done it before when I knew the remedy to what ailed us was young, good talent. But thanks to the FO, even this perk during a bad year is denied to us.
So no, this Lakers fan doesn’t worry about whether we beat a Dallas or a Denver or make the playoffs. Why should I? The time for that is long gone. It doesn’t matter if we do or don’t. Our fate this year and for next season is written in stone and can’t be chiseled out no matter how many hopeful hammer strokes fans take at it, nor how many times Mitch and Buss assure us this team will reach its potential. Because next year, they will just be older. Their potential will never approximate what is needed to win a title. It couldn’t. It never could. Because the problems that needed to be addressed never were. So what potential does Mitch and Buss speak of or expect me or others to believe in? This is one Lakers fan who is not that blind.
But I do worry. About something else. I worry about how the FO, despite two years of evidence that told them, and us, exactly what was wrong with this team, decided to forget all of that and become hypnotized and enamored with a 38 year old Eve Ash, a 36 year old Antawn Jamison and thought adding them to the team would solve the age, athleticism and defensive problems that caused us to crash against Dallas and OKC. When they looked at those films, looked at those so obvious flaws, how exactly did they see an older Metta, and older Pau and an ancient Eve Ash and Jamison correcting those very indelible problems? And I’m not talking about hindsight, I mean, at the time. How did they think this team was going to correct its perimeter defense, its post defense, its transition defense, its one-on-one defense? All the things that above all else, killed us the last two years? I’m still not sure how they thought that. And you know what, I have a feeling when they lie in bed at night now, Mitch and Buss wonder exactly how they bought into that too. But it’s too late now. We have too many old players, playing big minutes at important positions, tying up big money for us to do anything about it. The nails are in the coffin and lid is on so tight it can’t ever be removed.
So now we have to play it out. A nothing year now, a nothing year coming. Just hoops, some moments of fun, but in the end, playing for nothing, not even a draft pick.
And we won’t be able to think about championships till this team is gone. When Kobe, Pau, Metta, Jamison and Nash are history, along with their salaries. Then, and only then, can we even begin to start thinking about what the future may hold and harbor championship thoughts in the far recesses of our minds.
And that is where this Lakers fan does have worries. With Dr. Buss now gone, with Jerry West more a memory for many fans and just a name to newer Lakers fans, what will the future bring? It is easy to say the lure of LA will take care of the franchise. That we will just sign some big name players and win titles again. But that is not necessarily the case. With the new bargaining agreement, it will be harder than ever to stockpile superstars on one team, an old Mitch stratagem and fall back method in lieu of good drafting and smart trades. With the final dissolution of this team, it will not only be the farewell to the Kobe era, but hello to a new one, without Dr. Buss and the leadership and smarts he provided.
And what will be the result of Mitch and Jim Buss turned loose? Were the horrific, blind decisions of the last year, which Mitch and Buss so believed in and still, amazingly, try to believe in, be proven just a momentary aberration and madness? A short lived fever? Or is it the precursor to a more virulent, long-lasting strain of ineptitude that will constrain and contaminate important decisions and this team for years or decades to come? Don’t think it can’t happen. We have been lucky as Lakers fans. But all sports have hosts of teams that have never won a title, never even competed for one, as stark, silent testament to what a bad owner and front office can do to their team and even more sadly, their fans.
I don’t worry about us making the playoffs, not this year, nor the next. Because our fate is already decided this year and the next. There aren’t going to be any more titles. But I have to admit, for the first time in my life as a Lakers fan, for the very first time, I do worry about what comes next, how bad it might get, and how long it may go on. At the end of Showtime and the Threepeat era, as sad as it was, the long range health and destiny of the team was never a concern for me. This is a first. And that worries me too.
As an aside here, but also related to this post: It was interesting at half time of the Dallas game that every member of the panel said the Lakers made a mistake not trading Dwight. The other thing that couldn’t help capture my attention was during the game when Van Gundy pretty much said it is obvious that Kobe and Dwight don’t get along and one probably needs to go. Some strong words were spoken during that telecast. Are they right? We will see. But interesting stuff for sure.
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Celtics Bow Down In Staples - Kobe & Dwight Era Begins
Posted by: JamFan on Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 11:03 AM
PIC OF THE DAY - Goes to Kobe and Dwight who played last night like two players who are destined for greatness. Now that Kupchak has proclaimed that they will indeed be together for at least the next couple of years, will they settle down and start playing like brothers? |
aka Don Allen
THE KOBE AND DWIGHT ERA BEGINS - Make no mistake about this. Kupchak has joined Kobe and Dwight at the hip, and they will make a playoff run this season. Dwight Howard will sign an extension next summer. Management will find a way to build a better compliment of players to surround them and make sure they are successful. The new era has begun. They will have to realize that they are in this thing together and they might as well bury the hatchet and become soul mates. The way they played against the Celtics just shows that all things are possible.
CELTICS BOW OUT - The Lakers made quick work of the Boston Celtics with a 113 - 99 victory in the first game after the All Star break. With Kupchak procliaming that Howard is not going anywhere, the team pulled together and played with emotion and determination. Dwight Howard had 24 points and 12 rebounds while Earl Clark had 14 points and 16 rebounds. We won with Kobe scoring only 16 points on 15 shots. Metta chipped in 12 and Nash had 14 while hitting 6 of 7 shots. Off the bench, Jamison had 15 points and Blake had 10. This was the first game after the death of owner Dr Jerry Buss and there was a tribute to him before the game. The victory was a tribute to him during and after the game. Dr Buss would have loved to have seen how they played together last night. Maybe he did.
FORMULA FOR HOW TO WIN - Last nights game against the Celtics must solidify in the minds of the Lakers just how they are going to continue to win and make a playoff run. WE HAD 7 PLAYERS IN DOUBLE FIGURES. Duh? That will get it done. We need Kobe to be both scorer and facilitator. We can't afford for him to chose one vs the other. He needs to continue to be more selective in his shooting and to trust his team mates more. When eveybody is involved in the offense, they suddently get more involved in the rest of the game. Suddenly defense and rebounding happens. Suddenly, team work happens. Suddenly, winning cures everything. The ice will break and these guys will start to play like brothers.
TRADE DEADLINE LOOMS - With Dwight Howard proclaiming that Mitch Kupchak has told him that he definately will not be traded, and with Pau Gasol out with injury for an extended period of time, it is hard to get a handle on any trade rumor that might actually go down before the deadline on Thursday, February 21. There are players out there that the Lakers would probably like to have, but there are only a fews hours left to pull off a deal. With the passing of Jerry Buss, and with the family and the team in mourning, now is not the best environment for a big trade to go down anyway. Look for the Lakers to make only a minor deal, if anything.
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The sad predictable, inevitable end of Kobe Bean Bryant.
Posted by: SPQR on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 04:33 AM
Before the Laker’s game with Memphis tonight, the players had a meeting to air their grievances. That meeting was talked about on ESPN after the game. Among one of the issues brought up was Kobe Bryant asking Dwight Howard if he had a problem playing with him because Kobe takes so many shots.|
It is telling about just where this team is and how irreversible this situation is that Dwight didn’t really answer him.
And that is just how low this team is now: Unable to get along, unable to even talk to each other in any kind of constructive way. Just mute desperation.
When this travesty of a season is done, when this team is finally, mercifully broken up, and yes, in all probability our last year’s savior Howard becomes next year’s refuge fleeing the Lakers dysfunctional war zone as fast as possible, or traded before that happens, blame will fly around like vultures over a carcass.
And there is much blame to go around. To Mitch and Jim Buss, for fooling themselves into thinking trading one good center for another and bringing in old, big names to a team that needed younger, faster players was the solution to our problems.
To Mike D’Antoni for trying to fit players into his system, not the other way around. And on the players themselves, how don’t try to get along, don’t seem to even try to play as a team, nor show any fire or inclination to do so. They seem like a group that can’t wait to get his unholy roller coaster ride over as fast as possible and start their vacations.
But there another person responsible for this excrement we call the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers, and that is the legend called Kobe Bryant. When watching Howard look so beaten down already, so joyless, so mute and unable to even express himself, one looks a broken player. And one can’t help but think of two other more accomplished players who left here: Shaquille O’Neal and Andrew Bynum. All three had one thing in common: Kobe Bryant. The other thing they had in common was leaving LA. And it looks like Dwight Howard will soon share that journey. Andrew Bynum was traded, but does anyone doubt he would have taken the first ticket out of Kobe slavery as soon as free agency let him after this year? And who could blame him? And who could blame Dwight if he left?
.And once again, not by coincidence, it is Kobe who seems to be having troubles with a teammate. He is always the other guy in the problem. Shaq, Drew, Dwight. And it seems, he has the most trouble with talented teammates. Once again, not a coincidence.
Kobe Bryant, at 34, simply will not relinquish ANYTHING to ANYONE. He wants to play like he is 28 forever. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t care who his teammates are, whether they go by the name of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard. It wouldn’t matter if their names were Lebron James or Kevin Durant. Or Abdul Jabbar or Oscar Robertson. In Kobe’s world, even at 34, you accept scrapes and if you don’t, you end up broken, wanting to leave.
Dwight Howard and those fans who viewed him as the savior are now finding out what it is like to play with the Mamba. Just like Drew did. And so is Steve Nash. One can only wonder what is running through their heads right now. Well, not really. You know what it is. How the hell did I get conned into coming here to play with Kobe?
After tonight’s game, while being interviewed, Kobe looked like a beat dog. His eyes were lifeless, his voice soft and defeated. Gone was the arrogance, gone was the jutting jaw and the cocky smile. He looked small, diminished, quiet and alone. Because he is. No teammates to support him, nobody to have his back. Alone with an ego that even now, after all he has done, will not allow him to ever let this team, or any he is on, be a team. When he was 28, or 30, or 32, his wondrous, once in a lifetime talent was able to overcome that flaw in his personality and game. He was just that great. At 34, that is no longer the case. And as Kobe leaves the minds of the players who could help him most broken and bewildered, so too will he leave the team.
Kobe at 34 still wants to have four Dennis Rodman’s around him. Just rebound and play defense and let me do the rest. But other players, who feel have something to offer besides being Dennis Rodmans, who view themselves as professional basketball players can only be destroyed by that philosophy of greed. They can’t survive and thrive in it. Kobe doesn’t have four Rodman’s around him and even he can’t force other players to be that no matter how much he wants it. So he breaks them, in mind and spirit, slowly like on some inexorable, crushing wheel.
Yes, his diehard fans will counter with the same old tired arguments: He’s the best scorer. The other guys suck. He doesn’t trust them. But they don’t hold water and never did. They were just excuses so Kobe could run the NBA’s most elite and rare club with a singular membership, the club of me, Kobe Bryant. All these fans just keep running through players faster than Kobe does. Pau, an all star isn’t good enough. Drew, an all star wasn’t good enough. Nash isn’t good enough. Now Howard, their own personal Kobe savior before this season started isn’t good enough. And the list is longer than that and stretches back decades. Kobe didn’t trust his teammates after going to three straight finals. Because trusting them would have impinged on what he wanted to do- be Kobe Bryant. If you can’t trust teammates after three straight finals, winning two, when could you ever? The answer: Never.
The truth is this: Nobody enjoys playing on a team with a 34 year old man who still thinks the team is only him. How many of his teammates have we heard allude to that problem: Bynum, Gasol, Metta, Howard and others over the years. Doesn’t that tell Kobe and his fans SOMETHING? But he and they still think he gets all the shots and all the glory and others should be happy. It doesn’t work that way. Not anymore, not at 34.
I’m not blaming all of what has transpired this season on Kobe. But yeah, as our “leader” he sure takes a lion’s share of the credit. Yes, the problems are many, those I have enumerated on this post and others I haven’t. We know them all. But make no mistake; the broad shoulders of Kobe Bryant take a load of the blame for insisting on making the Lakers his personal, glory arena, even as that arena burns to the ground around him in a conflagration he helped create and ignite.
Now at the age of 34, when he should be reaping the benefits and accolades of his achievements, Kobe Bryant is all alone. Now at this late date, when even someone as self-involved as Kobe is to the very core of his nature, when even someone like him must finally see what is going on, when he could actually make his teammates happier by extending a hand, by sacrificing some of his game, or a lot of it, he still stands fast like the wall of Jericho: Unassailable, unmoving, uncaring, taking himself and the team down with him. Even at this late date, he cannot subsume that massive ego, that destroyed him and the Lakers, enough to try salvage something of this lost season and himself.
So it ends for Kobe Bean Bryant, really the only way it could. Because his ego would not let end any other way. It was an ending predicable years ago, as predictable as the rising and setting of the sun.
The confidence is gone. The jutting jaw pulled back. Forever. Because he will never see another title, will never be the position to play for one or even dream about it.
The swagger replaced by resignation and confusion. The brash voice now a small, quiet whisper. Nobody has his back. Nobody cares. Nobody wants to help. Not even his teammates.
He is all alone with his ego in the dark. And that is a fitting way to end his last years. Because that is how he wanted to play it his whole career.
Kobe, alone, vs the world.
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Lakers Lose The Battle - The War is Not Over - Magic Goes Off....Again
Posted by: JamFan on Friday, January 04, 2013 - 11:53 AM
aka Don Allen
THE BATTLE GOES TO CLIPPERS - A battle is something that goes on for one game, one playoff, or maybe one season. But a war is something that goes on for a long time. The Clippers are clearly winning the season battle so far and took the second game in the Battle for LA 107-102 despite a furious comeback attempt by Kobe Bryant that fell short. In the end, it was Kobe vs CP3. This time it was CP3 who prevailed. With 16 championships, the Lakers have clearly owned LA for over 5 decades. They have already won the war. But there is a new kid in town. And they are not going away.
THE RIVALRY - After last nights game, the Clippers have the 2nd best record in th NBA at 26 - 8 and would be the 2nd seed in the playoffs. The Lakers are now 15 - 17 and wouldn't even be in the playoffs if they started today. Kobe said that fans expect the Clippers to blow them out. A couple of times it started to look that way as the Clippers built a couple of big leads as high as 18 only to have the Lakers fight back each and every time to make it a competitive game. The Rivalry will resume on 2/14 with a Laker home game, followed by a 4/7 Clipper home game. The rivalry continues.
MAGIC JOHNSON GOES OFF...AGAIN - During halftime on the ESPN feed, Magic displayed a big smile and then started to slice and dice the Lakers organization into threads. He started to sound like a Clippers fan instead of a Laker Hall of Famer. He called the way the Lakers played "stupid." He did not call the players stupid. He was clearly talking about the coaching. The other commentators piled on as well. It was all about the Jim Buss decision to hire Mike D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson when the team is clearly built to run PJ's system. But nobody ever said that Jim Buss knew anything about basketball.
STEPHEN A SMITH GOES OFF - I was watching ESPN Friday morning and during an interview he went off on how great the Clippers are. "These dudes are legitimate." He went to say that the Clippers have to be in the conversation with the other top teams when talking about who will go deep in the playoffs and contend for the title. Then the shot heard round the world. He went on to say that the Clippers "the best show in the NBA, as far as I'm concerned, since Showtime." I assume that he is talking about the Showtime Lakers of the 80's. So, that is qute a statement.
CLIPPERS STREAK - The Clippers surprised the NBA with the longest win streak of the year and the 3rd longest since 2000, only to falter and lose two road games while showing little of the team that dominated the NBA during the month of December. You could see it in their faces, the energy was gone, the fire had burned out. Maybe it was the post holiday blues. Now they start a new streak with 11 straight home wins that equals a franchise record.
LAKERS TURNAROUND - The Lakers had begun to turn it around recently winning 5 in a row only to lose 2 of the last 3. Kobe has declared the Lakers old and slow. It definitely seems that way on defense. The offense is really a roster more designed to flourish using the triangle offense that Phil Jackson would have brought to the table. Instead, Jim Buss, forever the fool, brought in a coach who has never been successful with his teams on defense, was run out of town on his last job in NY, and has an offense more suitable for Oklahoma or Golden State. These teams are young and fast and shoot extremely well from the outside. The Lakers are none of these things.
JIM BUSS IS THE PROBLEM - How long will it take for Laker fans to revolt and run Jim Buss out of town. Magic Johnson seems to have already started his revolt. Maybe the pending nuptials of Phil Jackson and Jeannie Buss will encourage the old man to rethink the power structure in the Lakers front office. There are smarter people all over the Laker organization than Jim Buss. His dad will be the last person to know.
KOBE HAS BLAKE'S BACK - Kobe actually came to Blake Griffin's defense recently while reacting to all the talk about how frustrated teams have restarted what we saw so often last season.....really hard fouls. Earlier this season, the hard fouls had subsided, mostly because Blake wasn't always the focus of the offense since the Clippers have so many weapons and the scoring is more often than not spread around to so many players. Defenses had a lot of things to worry about and Blake wasn't always their biggest problem. Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, and Matt Barnes has been giving opposing teams fits. Kobe said that Blake should "smack the F.......out of somebody." That's Matt Barnes job. When Matt is on the floor, I would be very careful about committing a flagrant foul on Griffin. Matt is not afraid and he might just come after you, so I would stay on the ground and out of the air.
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How fate changed the course of Lakers history and taught Magic some hard lessons.
Posted by: SPQR on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 03:48 PM
With the quick firing of Mike Brown this, it goes to show you what can happen when high expectations are not met. But this was not the first time a Lakers Coach was fired quickly, for not achieving what was expected. Decades ago, a coach was summarily and unexpectedly fired from his perch as boss of the Lakers. A coach who had just two years previously, won the championship. That coach was Paul Westhead.|
And what happened to him speaks to circumstance, and how one event can start a chain of events that lead inexorably like falling dominos to literally change lives and history.
What if I told you that one bike accident changed the lives of Jerry West, Dr. Buss, Pat Riley, Chick Hearn, Stu Lantz, Magic Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and the destiny of the whole Lakers Showtime dynasty and even more so, the history of the Lakers itself.
That if this accident didn’t happen, we may be watching the legendary broadcaster Pat Riley still calling Lakers’ games. That he would have never coached a single game? That a man named Jack McKinney might be as celebrated to Lakers fans as Riley is today? Or that the Lakers’ Showtime dynasty would never have been all that it was? Or that it may have been greater still than it ended up? All because of a bike accident.
When one thinks of the Showtime, images pop into the mind’s eye for those who were lucky enough to witness that once in a lifetime juggernaut. And endless sea of fast breaks that would drown a team in minutes in blowout after blowout. Magic running it; Worthy or Nixon or Wilkes or Scott or Thompson or Mcadoo or Cooper finishing it. Kareem so regal and stoppable behind the sky hook. Michael Cooper dunking with the Coopaloop or shutting down the best scorers in the league with cerebral, impassioned, physical defense. Pat Riley coaching the machine with intelligence, verve, imagination and panache with his trademark slicked back hair and Armani suites disguising the blue collar pit bull basketball junkie he really was. Dancing Barry’s wild celebrations in the aisles of the Fabulous Forum every time out that the Laker’s overwhelmed opponents had to take to try stop the fast break blitz’s. Dr. Jerry Buss establishing himself as the best owner in team sports. The great Chick Hearn inventing the perfect phrases for what we saw on TV. It all seemed to come so easy. But that is just on the surface. In reality it was born hammered on a very hot crucible that could have burned it all down before it really started.
As befitting a team sharing the stage with Hollywood, the true events were like those written in a movie script. It included such events as the young teams star player going from hero to reviled by fans to becoming the most beloved player in the teams’ history, Dr. Buss and a man’s best friend breaking a sacred promise to his sick head coach, a young championship winning head coach getting fired and a broadcaster leaving the booth to become the greatest head coach in Lakers’ history.
This amazing, convoluted series of events that ended with Showtime started in twenty year old Magic’s rookie year, the 79-80 season. His first head coach was not Pat Riley. Nor Paul Westhead. It was a man named Jack McKinney. McKinney was tapped for the job by Jerry West to coach a marvelous collection of special athletes. He was a smart coach who quickly realized that in Magic and Norm Nixon, he had two players who could handle the ball at breakneck speed and make all the right passes. He instituted a system of pushing the ball at every chance, a system that would become known as Showtime and would reach its apogee under Pat Riley.
This new system meshed perfectly with his players, as he knew it would, and they jumped off to a fast 10-4 start, getting better with each game. McKinney was a fitness nut and rode his bicycle as often as possible. And therein lay the first series of events that changed Lakers history and so many lives. Riding his bike to work, McKinney was involved in a horrific accident and received severe heads wounds. The damage was so bad, it was touch and go for a long while whether he would survive.
To take his place, Paul Westhead, another proponent of the fast break and McKinney’s assistant and best friend was tapped to take the helm. Westhead had been the first hire of McKinney’s because of their close relationship and respect Jack had for Paul’s coaching acumen. He owed his position entirely to McKinney. Westhead cast about for an assistant and asked his friend Pat Riley to join the coaching staff. Amazingly, Riley, who would become one of greatest coaches in history was not involved in the coaching profession. Not in the pros, not in college. Not anywhere. What was he doing? Surprisingly, he was playing second banana to Chick Hearn on the Lakers broadcasts. Riley was reluctant to take the job. Hearn pushed him to do it. Riley finally relented when Hearn promised he could have his old broadcast job back when McKinney returned. Under Westhead, the team did not miss a beat and continued to tear up the league. When McKinney came out of his coma, Dr. Buss and Westhead visited him and Buss promised that the team and his job would be waiting for him when he recovered. Westhead promised to keep his seat warm and the team in good working order till his close friend would return to the helm.
That year, the Lakers went on to beat the defending champion Sonics in the playoffs and upset Dr. J’s Sixer machine in the finals. The seminal moment being the game six clincher in Philly, when Abdul- Jabbar remained in LA with a leg injury and twenty year old rookie Magic Johnson had the greatest finals game in NBA history, playing all five positions, with heavy duty at the center, putting up forty two points, fifteen rebounds and seven assists in stealing the finals MVP award from an Abdul Jabbar who had dominated the Sixers and the series.
After the season, the Magic carpet ride shifted into even a higher gear. The Lakers signed their young superstar to a record breaking twenty-five year twenty-five million dollar contract extension. A contract that would obviously run well past his playing days. It was also common knowledge that Magic and Dr. Buss had formed a close relationship that carried on off the court to include business interests and night clubbing together and spending hours in each other’s company. For Magic, it was the best of times. But this contract and his closeness to Buss would have a profound impact on the attitudes of some of the veteran players later on when things turned rotten for the young new comer and he expected and needed their help.
The next year, McKinney was ready to return and redeem Dr. Buss’s and Paul Westhead's promise, but to his shock, hurt and dismay, Dr. Buss was no longer willing to honor it. Dr. Buss, reveling in the glory of the title and the performance of his young coach, told McKinney the job with the team McKinney had molded was no longer his to have, that it was Westhead’s job if he wanted it. McKinney felt betrayed by both men when Westhead, his best friend, decided to accept the job permanently. Just like that, McKinney was out and a life-long friendship flushed down the toilet. The bitterness inculcated in McKinney by the betrayal of both these men he trusted lasted for many years. It was only during an interview in 2006 that he had come to accept and get over the disappointment, admitting that as much as it hurt him at the time, in Westhead’s position, he too would have accepted the job even it meant destroying their friendship.
The next year, the Lakers were favored to win the title. And why not? With so many great stars and Magic only expected to get better, who could beat them? And the season started out just as expected. The Lakers were better than ever and so was Magic who dramatically increased his scoring while still dishing the sugar to his teammates with typical genius and brio. Then disaster struck. In November, against Atlanta, Tom Burleson fell on Magic. Over the next few games, Magic’s knee began to make noises and pain ensued. Finally an X-ray showed torn cartilage. Magic, the young, incandescent, supremely gifted savior and everyone’s hero was out and scheduled for surgery and long rehab.
Without Magic, the talented guard Norm Nixon took over the team. While not as good as they were with Magic, the team still was one of the best in the league and stayed atop the standings with the other top title contenders. But everyone was waiting for the return of the Magic to buttress the Lakers championship run.
Magic missed 45 games but on February 20th, the Fabulous Forum was abuzz because Magic was finally back! The Lakers continued to win the last few weeks of the season, but things were not going smoothly. The team had adjusted to Magic’s absence and gears were thrown out of whack with his return. Norm Nixon, who had blossomed running the team in Magic’s absence, resented being returned to the role of supporting player.
In the playoffs, they were scheduled to meet the Houston Rockets in the first round. Back then, this was a dreaded best of three and even worse, Houston’s center Moses Malone gave Abdul-Jabbar fits with his physicality and relentless board work. The Lakers won the first game at home, but Houston took the next in Texas. Back in LA, the nightmare scenario dropped like an atom bomb. Malone was unstoppable, Magic was aweful and the team couldn’t get in sync, and just that fast, the repeat was over and so was the season.
The 81-82 season, with Magic healthy, once again started with high expectations. But inexplicably, Westhead who before and after his Lakers tenure would only run a high octane, fast break offenses put a stop on LA’s pedal to the metal style of play. He forced the team to walk the ball up the court and run the offense through Jabbar. While Jabbar loved this change, the rest of the Lakers’ thoroughbreds hated it. The Lakers got off to a 2-4 start but started to win more than they lost, but now instead of the usual blowouts, every game was a struggle, every win a torture test and their scoring plummeted.
Tensions mounted as the players felt their talents were not being used to their fullest and team was not reaching its potential. In conversations with his teammates, Magic found strong support in the frustration he felt with the style of play. Except for Kareem, they told him Westhead had to go if things didn’t change. The media and fans began calling the team Slowtime. Magic and Westhead began to blame each other for the team’s problems and began to engage in a dance of death, each man blatantly disagreeing with each other and finally insulting each other during their talks in private.
Magic approached Westhead and tried to tell him that the team was off course in their style of play. That he and the other players were unhappy with the new style that held them back from what they could do like no other team. Westhead didn’t want to hear it. He told Magic to get more rebounds. Magic retorted, “How can I get more when you have me playing thirty feet from the basket?"
On November 18th, during a huddle against Utah, Magic asked for water. Westhead glared at him and said, “Earvin, shut up, get your ass in the huddle and pay attention.”
“I am paying attention,” shot back Johnson.
“You should be looking at me!” hissed Westhead.
Magic held his tongue after that but the untenable situation had come to a head. After the game, Magic told reporters in the locker room that he could not play in LA any longer, that he had to leave. When the reporters asked him if he was serious, he replied, “Definitely.”
Suddenly what was once looked like an unstoppable dynasty was falling apart in every way possible. The papers blared the headlines:” Magic wants out!”A choice had to be made between the star player and the coach and it was. The next day, Westhead, the usurper to McKinney’s job was fired and erstwhile broadcaster and Chick Hearn factotum Pat Riley was given the reins of power with assistant coach GM Jerry West to sit on the bench with him and watch over things.
West and Buss called Magic into Buss’s office and told Magic he had handled things irresponsibly by taking his problems to the press. They informed him that they too had been disenchanted with Westhead’s Jabbar oriented Slowtime offense and they had decided to fire him, before Magic had spoken up. They told him that he should have come to them with any problems the team had with Westhead. But now that he had gone public, he would be forced to accept the blame by the fans and media because it looked like Magic had forced the Lakers to get rid of Westhead. And the blame fell on him like a rain of a summer storm. The LA newspapers and national media which before had loved the ebullient, smiling, loquacious, supremely talented Johnson, which hung on his every basketball exploit and post game interview turned on him as is their wont. Now the ultimate team player and star of the team was labeled a spoiled, selfish brat who decided when a coach could be fired.
Magic knew he had only spoken what all the other players had told him and waited for his teammates to speak up to reporters. But it never happened. In a betrayal that hurt Magic just as McKinney had been hurt, his teammates were quiet as a church mouse in pew full of hungry cats. They let Magic twist in the wind and take the blame squarely alone. What did happen is certain veteran players harkened back to Magic’s unusual twenty-five year contract and close relationship with Dr. Buss and insinuated to reporters anonymously, "Does Magic’s lifelong contract make him more management than player? Does he now decide when a coach can be hired or fired? Does he decide who can make the team and also make decisions on who plays and how many minutes they get?"
For Magic, it was threefold learning experience. He learned that if he had a problem with someone on the team, you keep it in house. And he also learned that when you are a young star, who suddenly arrives on a team of veterans and you overshadow them, when you are anointed by fans and media, when you are the sun that everything revolves around, if things go bad, don’t expect your teammates to have your back. They will let you take all the blame, just as you got the overweening credit when times were good. And he learned that a star of his magnitude has power he did not dream possible. That this power made it imperative that every word that escaped his mouth had to be carefully considered and weighed, least it have results and consequences he never once thought could happen.
When the next game came in LA, Johnson received the fans full fury for his transgressions. The fans who had loved him so unconditionally for two plus years booed him loud and long when he was introduced. It was without question, the first time in his life when the home fans, his fans, in high school, college or the pros gave him anything but rousing cheers. As the boos resounded about the Forum, Magic set his mind in determination that he would win them all back.
And of course he did. It did not take long for West to realize Riley had the goods and he quickly left his position on the bench as assistant head coach and returned to his GM office full time. Under Riley, the Lakers went back to the McKinney fast break system and Showtime was reborn, better than ever. The Lakers crushed the league and swept through the playoffs losing only two games in the finals in the entire playoffs, to the Sixers again, beating them in six games. That Lakers team was one of the most powerful NBA champions of all time.
With winning comes forgiveness and their winning was obsene: Nine finals appearances in Magic’s twelve seasons. Five championships against the likes of Dr. J’s Sixers and Isiah’s Detroit Bad Boys. And most importantly of all, finally beating their long time torturers, the Boston Celtics, for the first time ever in the finals, twice, and ripping a dynasty away from Larry Bird and Beantown and placing it in LA and on Magic’s very wide shoulders while at the same time, breaking arch-rival Red Auerbach’s heart. In doing all this, orchestrating the most beautiful and deadly fast break in NBA history, with an almost prescient intelligence, an ever present smile, enthusiasm, consummate team play and an ability no player his size has shown before or since, Magic became forever, the most loved and celebrated player in Lakers history.
Pat Riley went on to coach Showtime to its greatest victories, working in close collaboration with Magic and the other players to perfect McKinney’s dream of fast break machine that buried it opponents in an avalanche of points. A fast break team backed up by the unstoppable half court game of Abul-Jabbar and ferocious defensive mentality. Pat Riley, the man who may have languished forever in Chick’s huge shadow in the booth, became along with Phil Jackson, the most celebrated coach in Lakers history. He of course later went on to coach the Knicks and win yet another title as Miami’s head coach. Chick Hearn had to find another permanent broadcast partner, eventually opening the door for Stu Lantz.
Paul Westhead, the man who along with Dr. Buss, reneged on his promise to McKinney went on to coach other pro and college teams, always emphasizing the fast break offense. At Loyola Marymount, his teams continually broke NCAA scoring records with their style of play. But he never approached that championship season he had in LA.
Jack McKinney, the man who lost his job and was prevented by events beyond his control to fulfill his Lakers’ destiny, who was lied to and betrayed by Dr. Buss and his best friend, also went on to coach other teams. He won the NBA coach of the year leading the Indiana Pacers. But he never got his hands on a team as talented as the Lakers and he never was able to win a title. And out of all the men so integral to this story, his fate is the saddest. Because he didn’t get that chance that Westhead got and threw away through hubris and pride, or that Riley claimed with an iron fist and such passion and fire and determination. We will never know what Jack McKinney would have done. Perhaps he would have not achieved the heights of Riley. Perhaps he would have bombed out. Or maybe, he would have been even greater than Riley. And I’m sure McKinney spent many a restless, sleepless night, over the years, thinking about what might have been.
And it all comes down to that innocent bike ride to work. All these men’s lives changed in that moment McKinney’s head collided with the pavement. If that had not happened, it could be McKinney who today is celebrated coach of the Showtime dynasty. If that accident wouldn’t have happened, Pat Riley may right now be still sitting in the booth, calling Lakers games, succeeding Chick Hearn as the legendary broadcaster Stu Lantz now is. And we may not even have heard of Stu Lantz. Without that accident, it is very possible Pat Riley, hall of fame coach and five time NBA head coaching champion, would never have coached a single game in his life.
And what if Paul Westhead had not abandoned the fast break offense he so passionately believed in? It is possible he would be what Pat Riley is now? And that begs the question, why did a coach who lived his life for the fast break, turn his back on the greatest fast break team in history? Why did he decide to try turn it into a half court basketball team against the very philosophy he always believe in? Did he fall under the spell of the greatest half court player in history, Abdul-Jabbar? Did he, like some of the veteran players, resent the fame and close relationship the young, newly arrived star Magic had with Buss? Did he decide to show he was the reason why they won, that he could do it again by making Magic just another cog in a slow team instead of the catalyst for Showtime? Was it a combination of both reasons, or were there others?
Either way, Showtime was born hard; of literal blood sacrifice, McKinney’s blood, stupid pride, a young star player’s mistakes, promises broken and betrayal. And one can’t help but wonder, if McKinney had skipped that fateful ride on that one day, what would be the history of the Lakers and all those now famous men involved in that incredibly special era and team be?
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2012-13 Lakers "Fun" Facts: Howard, Gasol, and Bryant
Posted by: lakeshowsd on Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 12:50 PM
Lakers record in games where Kobe took 19 shots or more: 1-6|
Lakers record in games where Kobe took 18 shots or less: 6-2
Lakers record in games where Howard took 11 shots or more: 6-3
Lakers record in games where Howard took 10 shots or less: 1-5
Lakers record in games where Gasol took 11 shots or more: 6-2
Lakers record in games where Gasol took 10 shots or less: 1-6
I realize that this is just a small sampling of 15 games but these facts reveal some fairly interesting trends. I see this as a carry over of the Kobe VS The Bigs debate from last year. Simply replace Bynum and Gasol with Howard and Gasol and you may see some startlingly similar results.
It seems clear up to this point that the Lakers have played better and won more games when both Howard and Gasol are more involved in the offense and shooting more shots. Furthermore, in games where Kobe has taken more shots than his season average (18 shots per game), the Lakers have struggled mightily in the win/loss column.
Anybody still supporting Kobe taking more shots? LOL. The Kobephiles seemed to be happy with Kobe shooting all those shots last season (a year where Kobe led the league in shot attempts per game by a wide margin), often at the expense of Gasol and Bynum. What about now that we've got a top 3 ranked NBA player in Howard? Shouldn't Howard command enough respect to get more scoring opportunities in the offense? Howard's in his playing prime now, he's developed into a proven 20 to 22+ point per game scorer over the last several years, and he's a career 57% shooter in field goal percentage, but he's averaging less than 18 points per game this year.
Meanwhile, Kobe once again sits in the top 5 among all NBA players in shot attempts per game this season, and nobody else on "Kobe's team" is even in the top 50. D'Antoni offensive schemes are predicated on balanced scoring, so I think it's obvious what needs to be done, and it'll really be up to Nash to right the ship. Upon his return, unless Nash can consistently dictate the D'Antoni offense and distribute the ball in such as way as to keep Bryant's itchy trigger finger under control, while increasing the scoring opportunities for Gasol and Howard, I expect these above stated trends to continue....
I'm sure this is another thread that will be "popular" with the neg happy Kobephile crowd and the lakeshowsd hater crowd but facts are facts. Now neg away, philes. Neg away. LOL
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Jerry West: Lakers overrated, Stu Lantz on Dwight Howard
Posted by: SPQR on Friday, November 23, 2012 - 11:01 PM
In the aftermath of the Lakers loss to Memphis, there is considerable discussion going on about what is up with us.|
Bad coaching (now from TWO coaches), bad system, no Nash, Pau Gasol, Kobe, Howard, the bench?
What ails this team so far in the early going (but getting a little beyond early).
Well, one thing may have been a remark by Jerry West in this weeks Sports Illustrated reported by Dan Patrick.
He asked West if the expectations for this team is too high. Wests verbatim answer: Way too high. The Lakers have names, and names don't win championships. When I look at this team, I see flaws.
Well the vernerable West is echoing the same sentiments I did about this team months ago. My concerns were clear. You take a team that got unceremonously bounced from the playoffs, and bounced hard, and trade one very good center for another, in my view, not much gain if at all, then bring in old players, bad defenders to a team that already had old players and bad defenders, and Im not seeing the creation of the Super Team that was so touted by fans and media. And when you don't see an appreciable addition to a piss poor bench, well, exactly how much better is this team than the one that got bounced the last two years?
As Mr. West said, I see a flawed team. And so far, under two coaches, thats exactly what they look like.
It is interesting to see the blame game start to shift to the likely suspect, Pau Gasol. After all, who will blame Kobe or everyones savior Howard? So the finger of opprobrium will inexorably turn to our little flower.
And play like a flower he has. But what did we expect? He has played like a flower for two years now. Did we think all of a sudden some strong, powerful man of steel would emerge for us this year? Pau is Pau. We know what he is.
Pau was not expected to lead us this year any more than he has the last two. The FACT is, it is Howard who was supposed to lead us, to be the difference maker in Kobe getting his sixth, seventh, eighth, nineth and tenth rings. Just ask so many here who panted and begged for years to get Dwight here.
Now its early yet, but as I said before, not that early anymore. And we can start to see the outlines of Dwights game. No, not the ESPN highlights where every time he got on the floor he was this amazing god you couldn't score on, or this man with the stamina of a deer and the heart of a lion who never had a bad game or never had a game where he didn't hustle.
Now as we watch him every game, we see the real Howard, the mortal man, warts and all. And now, instead of playing in Orlando, he plays here, in Bynums exact shoes. And there is a certain difficult formula to doing that.
Because on this team, the center will not always get all the looks and touches he may like. Kobe does love to shoot, especially near the end, as he did against Memphis in going 7 for 22. And like Drew, Howard is now learning that there is certain formula to playing with Kobe. And that formula says, Kobe does as Kobe wants and you have to live with it and learn to excel in other ways. Because there is no other way here.
And so far, Howard has not really done it any better than Drew has. And while Drew had his own problems of his own making, aside from playing here, so does Howard, as we are learning first hand.
He can't hit free throws to save his life, or this teams life. Contrary to popular belief and ESPN mythology, he does not run the floor like a deer on every play. He is not some unstoppable wall underneath as a plethora of players marching to the Lakers hoop has testified to all year.
And like Stu Lantz, the long time NBA announcer and former long time player said tonight, he has never seen a player get stripped of the ball as much as Howard does. Not to offend any Howard patrons here or anybodies sensibilities, but maybe Dwight should watch some film of..um..well..Drew, to learn how to hold the ball up and not get it stripped.
So far, Dwight Howard, now stripped (no pun intended) of his ESPN highlight invincibility veneer, looks so much more mortal here. Like his predecessor: A very good, flawed center.
And unfortunatly, given what happened to us the last two years, he must be much more than that for us to become champions. He will have to approximate the mythological Howard of ESPN and so many Lakers fans fantasies for us to be champions. Because being a clone of Drew, not exactly like Drew, but in the end, so very similar because of his own flaws, will not be good enough for this team to overcome its other flaws.
And now of course, the excuses start. The offense is not geared for him. Well, in what team with Kobe Bryant on it will it geared for the center? Did not Drew cry for more touches? Did not his proponents say the offense was sadly, not giving a man of this talents enough chances or plays run for him? The same cries from Howard proponents now are the same rehashed ones we heard for years from Drews.
And like with Drew, the bottom line with Howard is this: He will only get so many plays run for him. Like Drew, he will have to learn how to function in this new Lakers team. And if he doesn't learn how to function much better than Drew did the last two years, on both sides of the floor, we can all forget about a ring.
The year is young, but not so young any more. And we have a new coach. And we all await the return of Steve Nash to change this for the better, to wave his 38 year old magic wand and cure our ills.
But in the end, our ultimate fate just may be a function of this reality: That on this team, Howard is really not much better than Drew, not nearly as good as we need. That our bench is still lacking way too much. That our defense is pretty much the same as it has been. That Kobe, Jamison, Metta, Nash and Pau are too old and faded to climb up that long hard mountain one last time, pulling the weight you have to.
It could just be as Jerry West said. There are flaws. Too many flaws.
But the season is young. So there is still hope. But just not quite as young as it was.
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Brownout and the D'Antoni effect.
Posted by: SPQR on Friday, November 16, 2012 - 02:26 PM
Of course the big news this last week was the Lakers firing of Mike Brown after the putative Super Team looked much less than super during its first few games.|
In today's Sports Illustrated, veteran NBA writer Chris Mannix wrote about the latest Lakers hi jinx of Brown's departure and what the effect the hiring of Mike D'Antonio could have on the team’s weaknesses and fortunes. It's an interesting read.
From my own point of view, just looking at some to the topics he brought up and a bit more of my own:
Can D'Antoni fix some of the more crucial flaws we have? Flaws that I felt were perhaps not addressed by the FO off season moves as strongly as they needed to be to insure us another title? Those being defense, three point shooting, age and the bench. That remains to be seen. And it may be that no coach can or could address those issues with the personnel given to him by the FO.
It was interesting to note that even the FO now says the Princeton offense was not working. Also interesting to note that given our acquistion of Nash and Howard to go with Kobe and Pau, the Princeton offense was not an offense that played into our personnel. So the question persists, why did the Lakers take so much time and effort to go that route? Why did Coach Brown want to do it and more importantly, why did the FO sign off on it?
Also interesting that last night on ESPN Kobe was asked if the team would have a problem getting rid of Brown's new offense and adopting to D'Antoni's new one. His answer: "No. We didn't even learn that one anyway."
Which begs the question, Was that because it was so complicated or was it because the players really didn't believe in it or Coach Brown? Was it an indication that this train was peopled by passengers who had no interest in it's final destination nor any confidence in the ability or longevity of its conductor?
Also interesting that the triangle under Phil Jackson would not have taken full advantage of our acquisition of Steve Nash, or second most important off season move after Howard. Mitch seems to indicate that had something to do with the decision not to rehire Jackson and instead go with D'Antoni, who certainly got the most from Nash and pick and roll back in their salad days in Phoenix. And there is some common sense and logic in that thinking.
If you are going to give up so much for Nash, if he is going to be that important to the team, as apparently he is meant to be, why run an offense that relegates him to just another cog in a system offense? I mean since you got him, don't you have to maximize him and go full bore with him? Otherwise, what was the point of it?
That is not to say D'Antoni was the best choice out of a world full of coaches. But perhaps he was a better choice than Brown or Phil given the construct of this team and what they intended when getting Nash.
As I've said before, this team is better in its individual parts than its current abysmal record. And I do see better times and play ahead. I don't see how it can be otherwise. But I am also not so sure this is the Super Team it was claimed by the media and fans. It may be something more in-between when all is said and done: A good team that has too many flaws to achieve the greatness expected and predicted.
With the change over to D'Antoni, the true season starts. Because how many coaches can get blamed or be fired before the FO has to start looking at the players on the floor for culpability. The next change, if it has to come, will be with those players on the floor, not the man behind the bench.
In regards to this, in the article, a Western conference scout said they should move Pau if they can get a couple good (read younger, more athletic) players. And that is exactly the move I said a few weeks ago would happen if things keep going as they are. Pau would be the man to go, because he is the only one who can bring in a return that may yet rejuvenate this team if that is the prescription that is needed. You can only change coaches so often, but eventually it’s the guys on the floor, and chemistry, and synergy, and ability and yes, youth and young legs, that decide a team’s ultimate fate.
And now, the article by Chris Mannix in this week’s Sports Illustrated:
Showing none of the verve of their Showtime forebears, the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni, who inherits a team rife with stars-and questions
By Chris Mannix
Last Friday embattled Lakers coach Mike Brown arrived at the team's El Segundo, Calif., practice facility just before 9 a.m., ready to work. By 10, he was out of a job. Brown's firing was a knee-jerk reaction: What else can you call the dismissal of a coach who was trying to incorporate two new starters into one of the game's most complicated offensive systems, just five games into a season? But ownership, which, with a $100 million payroll and a pending bill for nearly $30 million in luxury taxes, wasn't willing to give Brown a chance to dig Los Angeles out of a 1-4 start.
On Monday the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni, 61, one of the NBA's elite offensive minds, who was handed the reins after negotiations with Phil Jackson broke down. L.A. will shell out $12 million over the next three years for D'Antoni-and eat the remaining $11 million on Brown's contract-because the team faced major problems in every facet of the game.
Advocated for by Kobe Bryant in the off-season and installed by assistant Eddie Jordan-the architect of the read-and-react system that powered the Nets to the Finals in 2002 and '03-the Princeton offense was supposed to rejuvenate a team that slipped from sixth in the NBA in efficiency (111.0 points per 100 possessions) in 2010-11 to 10th (106.0) last season.
Statistically, the Lakers' attack wasn't bad: After beating the Warriors 101-77 under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff last Friday, L.A. ranked 10th in efficiency (105.2). But, says G.M. Mitch Kupchak, "I never thought we got to the point where the offense was flowing. You would see some flashes of it, but we never had a consistent flow throughout the course of a game. They either weren't getting it or it was going to take too long for them to get it, and we weren't willing to find out which of the two it was."
In truth, the Lakers' personnel doesn't fit the Princeton system. Steve Nash won two MVP awards running mostly pick-and-roll in Phoenix. Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are two of the most effective post-up players in the league. By emphasizing floor spacing, dribble handoffs and back-cuts, L.A. was ignoring its strengths. "We couldn't have contained Dwight and Pau if they'd just kept dumping it in to them," says an assistant from a Western Conference team that played the Lakers this season. "But they didn't. I was shocked."
The D'Antoni Effect
Even without a full training camp, D'Antoni's up-tempo attack-which has a steady diet of pick-and-rolls and allows Nash to freelance-should be easy to install. While the system will benefit Nash, adjustments must be made to enhance Bryant's role: In Phoenix and New York, D'Antoni's off-guard has been primarily a spot-up shooter. "His system in the past would have marginalized Kobe," says a Western Conference scout. "You will probably see more flex-cuts-basically running off baseline screens-for Kobe to get post isolations."
Brown came to L.A. with a reputation as a defensive guru: In three of his five years in Cleveland, the Cavaliers finished in the top 10 in defensive efficiency. But the Lakers were porous under Brown; they finished 13th in efficiency last season and were 23rd this year before he was fired. "They had such poor floor balance," says the Western scout. "Because they were still learning the offense, the transition defense has been terrible. Before, they were very good at getting back and setting their defense. With their size and power they could load up and make you play from the perimeter."
Again, personnel was a factor: Nash and Gasol are mediocre defenders, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard is recovering from off-season back surgery, and Bryant is only effective in spurts. "If Kobe is allowed to be physical, he's O.K.," says an Eastern Conference scout. "But he can't stay in front of the fast guys anymore."
The D'Antoni Effect
In the past D'Antoni has been criticized for not devoting enough practice time to D. In seven full seasons as a coach, his teams have never finished higher than 13th in defensive efficiency. While the improvements on offense will likely smooth the transition defense, the fact remains that even if D'Antoni hires a top defensive assistant-which as of Monday he hadn't-L.A.'s defensive deficiencies are due more to personnel than tactics.
After finishing at the bottom of the league in second-unit scoring last season (20.5 points per game), the Lakers acquired veterans Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks and Chris Duhon-and Brown didn't trust any of them. In a win over the Pistons last week, Brown reinserted his starters after Detroit cut the lead to 24 points (24 points!) with less than nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter. At week's end L.A.'s reserves were averaging 20.7 points, second worst in the NBA.
The D'Antoni Effect
The new coach's system should squeeze more production out of the reserves, but he isn't a magician. At week's end Jamison was averaging just 8.0 points per 36 minutes (down from 18.7 last season), and Meeks was shooting 28.6%. Unless the Lakers move Gasol-"If they could get a decent starter and two reserves for Pau, they should do it," says an Eastern Conference executive-they are still going to lean heavily on their starters.
Howard's ailing back and Bryant's slowing feet haven't helped L.A.'s overly generous defense.
Coaching a championship team isn't easy-since 1996 only seven men have done it-and from Andrew Bynum's defiant behavior last season to the viral video of Bryant's icy glare at Brown late in a loss to Utah this season, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that L.A.'s star-studded roster wasn't buying into Brown. "The [players'] body language was terrible," says the Western Conference scout. "Watch them coming out of timeouts or setting up some of the new plays in the half-court. They didn't look like a team that trusted the system they were playing in."
The D'Antoni Effect
This is where D'Antoni will have an immediate impact. He has the complete confidence of Nash, who became a superstar when they joined forces on the Suns. Bryant grew up watching D'Antoni play in Italy and played under him in 2008 and '12, when D'Antoni was a U.S. Olympic assistant. D'Antoni is regarded as a players' coach, and his track record gives him instant credibility.
That's important, because the clock is ticking. Jackson's triangle offense and championship experience would have improved the Lakers, but D'Antoni's fast-paced system could make them even better. Though if the players continue to perform-and, particularly, defend-as they did under Brown, there isn't a coach on the planet who can save L.A.'s season.
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