Did Magic Johnson Throw Jim Buss Under The Bus? - Kobe Calls D'Antoni An Offensive Genius
Posted by: JamFan on Monday, November 12, 2012 - 10:29 AM
aka Don Allen
Last Night after the Clipper telecast on ESPN, where the Clippers beat the Miami Heat 107-100, there was a roundtable discussion where Magic Johnson was commenting about his disappointment that the Lakers did not hire Phil Jackson as the head coach. He went on to say that he loves Dr Buss, but does not believe in Jim Buss. He repeated it twice for emphasis. He said that Jim Buss has now made two critical mistatkes. Magic didn't seem to think that Coach Brown was the right coach in the first place, and went on to say that D'Antoni was not the right coach for the Lakers either. Magic had also tweeted that the reason he hasn't tweeted in two days was because he was in mourning that the Lakers did not hire Jackson.
Magic is not the only person to question the management skills of Jim Buss. Other commentators around the country are wondering if he is in over his head. He quickly hired Brown reportedly without consulting his star Kobe Bryant and many wondered why. Then 5 days into the season he fires Brown thereby giving him an 11 million dollar paid vacation. Then he hires D'Antoni over the greatest coach of all time. All of this leaves many wondering about the quality of the decisions that Jim Buss makes. Coach D'Antoni has never won anything and all you have to do is go and read everything that happened in New York where D'Antoni resigned after two disappointing seasons.
When Magic speaks, people listen. Especially the Laker Nation. Unfortunately, Mike D'Antoni and Jim Buss are going to be under a microscope. If this coaching decision blows up in Jim's face, then what happens? Stay tuned.
So Jim Buss hires Mike D'Antoni after reportedly telling Phil Jackson to let him know if he wants the job and to think about it over the weekend.
The fans were surprised.
The players were surprised.
The sportswriters were surprised.
Phil Jackson was surprised.
But you know you have a small PR problem when the head coach you just hired is also surpirsed.
Just yesterday, one of ESPN's top radio show announcers spent a lot of time trying to find out how many ways he could characterize what the Lakers did to Phil Jackson as "Slimy." However, as fans, it is time to just get over it. Wishing for PJ isn't going to change anything at this point. We need to move "Forward." At least D'Antoni's offense is a lot more fun to watch. That is if this current lineup can pull it off.
The team is rallying around Mike, displaying an desire to embrace the run and gun offense. Kobe called Mike a feisty dude and an offensive genius. Kobe spent time with Mike during the Olympics and apparently developed a positive relationship.
So why was there so much anxiety among the fans over this decision?
They had available the most sucessful coach in the history of the NBA. A coach who has more championship rings than he has fingers to display them on. A coach that has a history of winning championships with the Lakers in LA. A coach who has a history of winning championships with your star, Kobe Bryant, and a dominant center. He is a coach that has proven time and time again that when he gets to the championship series, he can get the job done. A coach who is willing and able to take over the reigns of you franchise that seems to be in trouble and restore it to it's former glory. That coach is Phil Jackson.
So, what do the Lakers do? They hire a coach that has never won a championship. They hire a coach that has never even made it to a championship game. They hire a coach whose system has proven that as you move further into the playoffs, it becomes less and less successful. They hire a coach who has never been able to get a team to play defense. They hire a coach that had success with Steve Nash when he was a lot younger than he is today. They hire a coach who is a run an gun guy, who will be running with a team that has 3 stars that are way past their prime. They hire a coach whose offense depends a lot on having players who can hit the 3, something this team hasn't been all that good at doing. They hired a coach who had to resign after two disappointing season as the head coach of the Knicks. Things didn't go well in New York.
They took a gamble and hired an experiment. Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, and Mike Kupchak, were all reportedly on board saying that Mike D'Antoni was the right guy for this current lineup of players. It is a nice thought. But at a time when this franchise may only have Kobe and Steve Nash for a couple more years, and need to sign Dwight Howard to a long term deal, and need to win now, is this the time for an experiement? is this the time to be taking a gamble that this is going to work? Why would they do this?
Some NBA commentators are starting to speculate that maybe it is all about money. They have to eat the remaining 11 million on Coach Brown's contract. Apparently, they are not paying D'Antoni very much, maybe only 4 Mil per year. So, the money they have to pay Brown and D'Antoni combined is less than what they would have to pay Phil Jackson. After all the money they have spent on the roster making it the biggest payroll in NBA histroy, and after the obscene luxury tax, is this the time to go cheap on an unproven coach???
With the signing of Phil Jackson, I was going to instantly move the Lakers way up on my Power Rankings. Now, it will a matter of the team having to prove it to me. With Phil Jackson, I know this team was going to compete for a championship. Now, we could see veteran players breaking down with injuries while trying to run a young man's offense. If Kobe, or Dwight, or Steve, or Pau are not there for the playoffs, our chances are diminished. Running the Triangle, the chances of all those players being there for the stretch run would have been greatly increased.
I admit that I am tired of watching the Triangle offense. It isn't that exciting to watch anymore. On the other hand, Mike D'Antoni's run and gun style is fun to watch and a lot more entertaining. The only thing is that Mike D's system has won anything yet, and the Triangle has.
This experiment might work......it might not. I hope it does.
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Phil to return to Lakers: Everything old is new again.
Posted by: SPQR on Saturday, November 10, 2012 - 02:10 PM
When trumpets were mellow|
And every gal only had one fellow
No need to remember when
'Cause everything old is new again
Dancin' at church, Long Island jazzy parties
Waiter bring us some more Baccardi
We'll order now what they ordered then
'Cause everything old is new agian
Get out your white suit, your tap shoes and tails
Let's go backwards when forward fails
And movie stars you thought were alone then
Now are framed beside your bed
Don't throw the pa-ast away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again
Get out your white suit, your tap shoes and tails
Put it on backwards when forward fails
Better leave Greta Garbo alone
Be a movie star on your own
And do-on't throw the past away
You might need it some other rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again
When everything old i-is new-ew a-again
I might fa-all in love wi-ith you again
- Everything old is new again: lyrics by P Allen and C.B. Sager.
Reports say that the old Lakers coach, Phil Jackson will meet with the Lakers today to see if he has the desire to become their new coach in the wake of Coach Browns sudden departure.
I suspect very soon the news will break that the Zen Master has accepted the job. Like most powerful, accomplished men, Phil has a powerful, accomplished ego. It was obvious during and after the Dallas sweep he was somewhat surprised, shocked and dismayed to end his career on such a dismal note. I don’t think Phil anticipated or really accepted going out that way. I think he envisioned going out as he ended so many of seasons, on top, the champion of the basketball world.
This team also contains someone who Phil has often stated is one of his favorite players: Dwight Howard. Howard’s mere presence here is a lure that Phil will find hard to resist.
The Lakers could have gone in many directions. Taking a veteran coach of their pick, or even going with a young, well regarded assistant, of which there are many in the NBA, whose names may not be known to us, but are certainly known to Mitch and Jim Buss.
That the Lakers are turning to Phil is no surprise. He was the savior twice in the last few decades. He is considered one of the greatest coaches in NBA history and the fact that he dates the daughter’s owner certainly does not hurt his resume and it does give a certain inside track to getting the job.
And there is another reason for Phil’s return. When the present seems dismal, when forward fails, people tend to put their backwards on and hope a return to an earlier, successful time will make their dreams come true again.
So with Phil’s return, the cycle comes complete. A new team, and redoux call to a coach, Phil Jackson to wave his magic wand and bring about what he has so often in his career: A return to the finals and championship parade. Indeed, for the Lakers, with their new team and new/old coach, everything old does seem new again. For the Lakers, it means a return and embrace of old familiar faces and the re institution of the triangle, or some bastardized form of it. And because in times of trouble and discord, people will quickly embrace an earlier, happier time, Phil will be welcomed and fans will fall in love with him again.
Since we have had nothing but rainy days under Coach Brown, we now return to Phil Jackson, hoping to replicate sunnier skies.
The question of course is, how old and how new is this team and coach? The Lakers are still a work in progress. Center Dwight Howard is playing terrific ball. But no more terrific than his predecessor. The bench still looks abysmal, just like the one that helped doom Phil his last year here. The defense looks as shaky as it did against Dallas and OKC. Our new point guard can’t get on the court because his old body is injured. And when he does finally return, will the old Steven Nash have enough left to help make this a new team, not just a copy of the old one?
And so Phil returns. A fresh new start to a new team. That is the FO’s hope and our hope. And it has to be, because if it’s not, things will get ugly. So Phil is back and new questions about this team will be answered in the weeks and months ahead.
Is this really new team, to be straightened out by our new/old coach, or really just another slightly changed iteration of the old team that lost to Dallas and OKC? A team that no coach can make new?
And what of Phil? Is the new coach the Phil of old, who helped two Lakers teams turn things around and find their potential in championship banners, or is he just the old Phil who seemed so disconnected his last year, who needed Kobe to tell him to make defensive switches that seemed so obvious to Kobe and even fans?
Is this the Phil with fire in his eyes and mind, who molded the Jordan Bulls and the Shaq and Kobe Lakers, or is he the ailing, physically and mentally enervated coach who purportedly asked the Lakers if he could only coach home games if he were to stay on as coach?
And the answers to those questions will show us exactly what happens to your new/old team and our new/old coach.
Right now for the Lakers, with the impending return of Jackson, everything old is new again. As to the question of whether it will be successful, that will be determined by if this team and coach are indeed something new, or really just something old trying to look new.
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Brown Fired - Lakers Respond With Big Win - Phil Jackson's Return Looms
Posted by: JamFan on Friday, November 09, 2012 - 12:48 PM
aka Don Allen
The Lakers responded to Coach Brown's firing with their first blow out win of the season over the Warriors 101-97. This 24 point win at home featured 37 points by the bench while Dwight Howard only scored 6 points. It is amazing to watch the Lakers win playing as a team. In their first win over Detroit, Kobe only had 15 points. Overall, Coach Bickerstaff played the starters far fewer minutes than Coach Brown. Kobe did have quite a night with 27 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals.
Which brings us to the big elephant in the room, Phil Jackson. Their was already speculation that Phil was the leading candidate to once again become the Lakers head coach. Then in last nights game, the fans were cheering "We want Phil." Reports now say that the Lakers front office is also chanting "We want Phil." Sources say that they will be calling Phil again Saturday to see if he wants his old job back.
It seems like the Lakers lineup is built to be a great triangle offense team, but their are problems with a bringing in Jackson at this point. The obvious thing is that the triangle isn't all that easy for everybody to learn. Coach Jackson likes to come in, have a great camp and preseason, and prepare his team for opening day. A mid season switch will be tricky. There are only a couple of players remaining that were here when Jackson ran the triangle the last time, so most of the players will be students. Also, Phil likes to have his own hand picked assistants to help him guide the team. They often run the practices while he watches from the sidelines. He likes to be the director without being the orchestrator. Will we see a wholesale removal and replacement of the entire coaching staff? Will we see the return of Derek Fisher as a player coach? Will we see Derek Fisher return as an assistant coach? Just thinking out loud.
Coach Brown's tenure here was a strange event. Early on it was reported that Kobe was not consulted about his hiring. Many felt he was a nice guy but just not good enough to coach the Lakers. Kobe seemed miffed about the hiring at first but seemed to like playing for Brown. Kobe also doesn't appear to have been consulted about his firing either, and seemed to support Coach Brown after the fact. The Lakers, who already have the largest payroll, and a huge luxury tax, will reportedly eat the remaining 11 million on Browns contract. What a paid vacation he is going to have. Moreover, if they hire Phil, expect that to cost a ZenMillion more. I guess the Lakers have deep pockets.
One early report says that the Lakers are also interested in signing Mike D'Antoni as their next head coach. Two problems with that arise. For one thing, Mike has not been a coach that has had much success coaching defense with any team. Unfortunately, that is a weakness the Lakers are already displaying on the court and you have to wonder if Coach D'Antoni is the answer for that problem. In the past, his stategy has been all about just ourscoring the opposing team. Also, Coach D'Antoni's fast paced, shoot first, think later, style of offense may not be well executed by a Laker lineup that has stuggled with the fast break. Once upon a time, Steve Nash was a master at running Mike's offense in Phoenix, but does he still have the legs at age 38 to lead that offense.
Stay tuned because these reports have just hitting airwaves and we will know more as this situation developes. We will update you on TopBuzz
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If the Lakers Dream fails, how far will the dominos fall?
Posted by: SPQR on Thursday, November 08, 2012 - 03:21 AM
all the leaves are brown|
and the sky is grey
I've been for a walk
on a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
if I was in L.A
on such a winter's day
stopped into a church
I passed along the way
well, I got down on my knees
and I began to pray
you know the preacher likes the cold
he knows I'm gonna stay
on such a winter's day - California Dreamin' -The Mommas and the Poppas
With the Lakers loss tonight, the Super Team assembled during Mitch Kupchak’s genius off season falls to 1-4.
It’s early in the year, so this is still a very small sample of games. Things could get a lot better, somewhat better, or in a nightmare scenario, not any better at all.
On a team peopled with a Kobe Bryant, a Dwight Howard, a Pau Gasol, one certainly expects some improvement. But how much? In light of present, early events, would a decent year with a playoff loss now become a happy ending?
No, not with the expectations of the dream Super Team heralded before the season. The fact is, this year is championship or bust. Anything less would be failure, and right now, currently, it’s nothing less than disaster.
What will happen down the road? Who knows, though after five games one can’t help but notice some very alarming that are showing up with a frightening consistency.
If this keeps up, or if something less than expectations continue to happen in the next few weeks and months ahead, what will happen? What would be the fallout and how far would it go? Where will the dominos fall? Because one thing is sure, dominos, and heads, will fall. In high pressure, heavy expectations world of big business or sports, when a paradigm that was forecast so strongly falls so far short, heads end up rolling. It’s just the nature of the business.
This is supposed to be the California dream of a Super Team. A noble and good dream. One that would stand in the pantheon of Lakers and NBA greats. And Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss sacrificed a lot to that dream.
But as we all know, dreams can be funny things. They seem real at first when we have them, when we exist inside them, but as the dream goes on, we notice things. Things that are not right, things that tell us, it’s not real, but a dream. And dreams are very ethereal, ephemeral, unstable things. A pleasant dream that one is enjoying so very much can quickly turn into a nightmare that brings dread.
And if the dream of the California Super Team goes bad, if it shifts from heaven to hell, there will be people made to pay a stiff price for all of us living a nightmare.
The first head, or scape goat, if you will, to fall, will no doubt be Coach Brown. Regardless whether one thinks he’s a good coach, a lousy coach or something in between, he is one who’s head will roll under the lethal axe first.
The reasons are simple. Mitch gave him the Super Team dream and said, “Go get that title guy.” And if he doesn’t get it, he’s gone. If at some point this season, Mitch decides Brown can’t get it, he’s gone.
But when you examine this team, did Brown really get a dream Super Team? Not in my view. The major addition to this team was Dwight Howard. He was the savior, the guy who would bring the heart, hustle and game that his predecessor Andrew Bynum lacked. He would cure Bynum’s ills and also our defensive problems all at once. It’s what Mitch thought, it’s what so many fans thought.
But tonight, once again, Howard had a very good game. A very Andrew Bynum type of game. He was also played to a standstill by Utah’s not so special centers.
I don’t blame Howard for not making the huge impact over Drew that so many predicated and obviously Mitch expected. For one, Howard is not the man here any longer. Now he is part of the Kobe Lakers. Second, he now has to play with a very flawed team, just as Drew did. He has to share space and rebound with and against Pau Gasol, he has to play with a bench that stinks, he has to play with guys who can’t hit outside shots with any consistency, all things he did not have to contend with in Orlando. In other words, Mitch traded a very good center in Bynum, who had to deal with certain difficulties here, for another good center in Howard, who now has to face the same things Drew did. His defense also is not appreciably better than Drew’s. So in essence, so far, the Howard for Drew trade was a lateral one, not a large jump foreword that was the prerequisite for a Lakers championship run. One could almost say Dwight, right now, can be termed Andrew Howard.
Second, Mitch did nothing to secure this team from the horrific bench play of the last few years. Yes, he let some middling players go, then replaced them with other middling players. Why would he expect some major change in production there? Did he sign any bench player that had any fan thinking, Oh man, this guy is really going to jump start the bench? The biggest name was Antwon Jamison, an old man whose best years are in the past. Was this the guy Mitch thought would turn a bare and bereft cupboard into shelves full of tasty food?
And Jamison’s age brings up perhaps the most problematic issue his offseason failed to address: Age.
On a team that was obviously long in the tooth and unathletic, he not only did not fix the issue, but doubled down on the problem. Instead of getting younger and more athletic, he actually made this team older with the additions of a fading Jamison and a bona fide relic named Steve Nash. Which begs a very logical question for any Lakers fan: How do you take a team that is too old and unathletic to win a championship, make it even older, and expect it to get even better than it was the last two years?
That answer didn’t come to my mind back then, and after five games this year, I still don’t see that answer.
Where Mitch should have been trying to move heaven and earth getting rid of old players like Metta, and even aging players like Pau or Blake with younger ones, instead he left that age on the team and added Jamison and Nash, and somehow thought it was a fix?
And what did we give up for all this? Draft pick after draft pick. First round ones. Enough to start a rebuilding process for a team if you have a good front office.
And what did Mitch do to buttress a defense that was so horrible for two years? He signed Howard. A good defensive move. One that you could expect to really help us improve over the last two years….. if our last center was Vlad Divac. But Drew was a pretty good defensive center. And just his size alone down in the blocks intimidated foes, even on the nights he didn’t want to play defense. So how much defensive improvement did he expect here? A ton? So much it would turn this team into a champion?
And what else did Mitch do to improve this massive Achilles heel that ripped the life and championship hopes from this team the last two seasons? Well, he kept an old Metta, he kept Blake and he signed….um…those defensive stalwarts Anton Jamision and that renowned stopper, 38 year old Steve Nash. Given all that, are we that surprised the half court defense and the transition defense looks exactly like last years?
And what if in a total melt down situation, this team doesn’t even make the playoffs? Just suppose, in some apocalyptic season, we were even a lottery team. What would we get for it? Nothing. Courtesy of Mitch Kupchaks wholesale give away of high draft picks to get old men and nothing players.
Today, as watched the Utah game, as I saw Utah’s centers play Andrew Howard to a dead standstill, as I watched again our defense not defend the perimeter or the post, as I watched the same old sad bench get outplayed, for seemingly the millionth time in three years, as I watched the aging Kobe and Metta and Pau and Blake, I heard the Utah announcers say something interesting.
They said, “This Lakers team may not be nearly as good as people thought.”
Gee, why wouldn’t this team be as good as people thought? Our best improvement was barely an improvement over the last player at his position. We did nothing to fix the bench or defense and made an old team older. Why wouldn’t this team be as good as people thought? I have no idea.
But in the end, it doesn’t matter what the media thought or the Lakers fans thought. What was paramount was what Mitch and Jim Buss thought. How they thought not improving the bench would help. How they thought trading one good center for another would give us that over -the -Miami -Heat -edge. How they thought doubling down on age, bringing in over the hill players like Jamison and a true fossil in Nash, and keeping old timers like Metta would somehow solve the age problem on this team.
If this keeps up, the dominos will start to fall. Coach Brown will be the first. That is not speculation but fact. And it may not take much longer. He is the coach and he will answer for the Super Teams failure. For the simple fact that Mitch will not admit doubling down on age was an error, or that trading one good center for another was not some quantum leap forward. In the end, Mitch will not fire himself. He will not blame age, Kobe, Howard, Nash, Metta, Blake, Pau or the bench. In other words, he will not blame the team he put together to win a championship. His finger will turn inexorably to Coach Brown, rightly or wrongly. And Coach Brown will be the first domino to fall if this season continues to fail.
And then what? What if Coach Brown is sacrificed for his shortcomings, real or perceived and a new person takes the helm? And what if under this new coach, things stay the same? What if the older guys look old, if the relics look like statues or keep getting hurt and Andrew Howard keeps manning the pivot with good play that is not much better than Bynum’s? What if the defense still sucks and bench is but a benign puff of breeze the other teams don’t even feel? What if we fail under the new coach? What if at the end of this year, the media and fans say: Boy were we wrong. But more important, what if at the end of the year, it becomes devastatingly clear Mitch was so totally wrong? Because what the media and fans think doesn’t matter a bit. What the GM thinks and does, matters in every regard.
So what if the great California Lakers Super Team dream turns into a black, dark nightmare vision? One that we can’t wake up from, even if we change coaches and systems or even linups? What it turns into a never ending cold, bitter winters day, not a bountifully summer stroll?
So if it does fall apart, how far should the dominos fall? Will they fall past Brown, up to Mitch? Will it also fall downwards to the team and its players? Will the team be fractured, melted down, broken up in total so that next year we won’t recognize it except for some of the few component parts that we know will remain, namely Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard? And what of the savior, Dwight Howard? If things collapse here and it gets ugly, dirty, nasty and mean. If the dream he signed on for, the sweet title run turns into a nightmare of losses and back biting and confusion? Will Dwight decide to re-up or will he decide to take his show to some environ less unstable and volatile?
If these things happen, what should happen to the architects of all this? To Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss? What should happen to the two men who traded away a kings ransoms worth of draft picks for nothing but faded names, distant memories and the dream of a Super Team that perhaps will prove to have only have been super six years ago? Will they fire themselves or would daddy do it to them? Would daddy Buss call them to the wood shed and say, What on earth did you do to my team? Our present? Our future? Would daddy cut the GM and his sons throat in some sacrifice of pride and penitence?
Or will Jim Buss, that famous neer do well and man of leisure, a man in the comfy position of being the owners son be looking for his own brand of blood sacrifice to cleanse his own so very dirty hands off the Super Team disaster? Will he call Mitch up to his own office and give him that last one-way ride that almost all GM’s eventually take in the wake of a disaster? Would Jim perhaps even welcome that chance to replace the GM with a man of his own choosing, a creature of his own device, moving yet one more step from the massive shadow of his legendary father?
Or in the end, if this all falls on its collective face, will Buss and Kupchak just blush, smile a little, look out upon the shambles of the now and the future and say, “Ooops”, as if they only spilled a glass of milk and keep drawing those huge salaries as though all is well? As though the California Dream was still alive? Will that small, uttered "ooops" be enough to make everyone forget? And should it?
Coach Brown will go. Probably soon. The gears of our current failure are going to grind him out to that resolution. But the question is, when you are handed a dream called a Super Team, with all those expectations from fans, the media and front office, but wake up realizing you have been given Team Geriatric, how much are you to blame and could anyone win a title with it? That’s a question that the next Lakers coach will have to try answer.
But if things don’t turn around under his successor, if we don’t go to into the new coaches dream and encounter something more pleasant In the new collective slumber, how far should the dominos fall and more importantly, how far will they when we all wake up for the final reckoning?
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Dwight Howard, welcome to LA and Drewhood.
Posted by: SPQR on Saturday, November 03, 2012 - 04:40 PM
There are two things Lakers fans are going to learn this year: One is the all seeing sports microscope, the other is about who is the man on a team and what it can do for his game when he is, and against his game when he’s not. Both these things will play into our team this year involving our New Treasure, Dwight Howard. The guy so many assured us would solve all our problems, including our Drew problem, which as we all know, to hear so many tell, was the cause of our playoff disappointments of late.|
And the sports microscope works like this: When a player is on YOUR team, you see him every night. You see the good games he has, the nice plays he makes. And you also see the other side, game after game. The rebounds he misses, when a player drives past him for a layup, when he doesn’t make the right pass or declines to run the floor hard to stop a fast break. And when Andrew Bynum manned the pivot, we put him under that large electron microscope that magnified EVERY play. While on the east coast, Dwight Howard played outside our microscope. So all we knew were the stories. He was relentless, hustled on every play, was the exact opposite of what Drew’s detractors said Drew was. In other words, he was the anti-Drew, the answer to all our problems, especially on defense. They were the stories Drew haters and Howard fans bought lock, stock and barrel in their endless cacophony to swap Drew for a New Treasure that would bring us to the Promised Land.
And now he’s here, the New Treasure. And now he’s also under the big microscope, the same one Drew played under. Because instead of just tales and legends, we get to see him, game after game, play after play.
And after three games, the one thing that sticks out is our center position, with Dwight, looks so amazingly Drew like. Last night’s game was just another example of the other two. Howard, like Drew, certainly has talent. It is obvious. He makes good plays, like Drew. But now, under the microscope, the rest of him is there to see too. And what we have seen is well….Drew like. Howard has not shut down the middle, making it a black hole, as was advertised. Players still drive to the basket. Howard has not run the floor like a tireless deer, stopping opponent’s transition game. He is not scoring 25 or more a game. And last night, against a team that is not manned by Wilt Chamberlain in the post, he had a meager 13 points and 8 rebounds and was the main culprit as to why the Clippers had a 20-5 second chance point’s edge.
Now we all know what would have happened with Drew had that been his game. The big microscope would have been fired up and the criticisms leveled en masse. And deservedly so. But with Howard, I heard this: Well he was in foul trouble, and, Well, nobody passed him the rock.
And I would say, as Drew’s critics did, whose fault was it that he was in foul trouble?
And nobody passed him the rock??? Hmmm…..that sounds vaguely familiar. Nobody passed him the rock? Where have I heard that before? Ohhh, yeah, now I remember, I heard that about a 100 times in the last three years about Drew!! That’s where it was!
And to those who said it, who used those excuses, I would say, Welcome to Drewhood. It took three games under the big microscope for Howard’s defenders to sound, well….exactly like Drew’s defenders!!
Imagine it! See how things change when the a player is no longer just a story, some tale to be told from across the country. Some Chimera, some legend that you don’t get to see and evaluate every single play? Now Howard is here, and looking very Drew like, he begins to reap Drew like excuses for failings from the very fans who attacked Drew for the same things.
And that is the function of being under the big microscope. Now Howard is not some magical thing who never has a bad game or makes bad plays, who always runs the floor and is the defensive stopper you can’t broach or puncture. Now, like Drew, he’s a real player, warts and all.
And on a night when 25 points and 17 rebounds would have done us well, he didn’t come close to giving what we needed, or what the magical Howard’s fans said he would have given, in lieu of Drew. Instead we got the real Howard, just a man, just a good center, like Drew.
The second thing to remember is that unlike in Orlando, Howard is no longer the main man here. Like Drew, he won’t get the rock like he did in Orlando. Now he is just a part of the Kobe machine, and like Drew, he will have to find his way in that complex device. And it’s not gonna be the same. Now Howard will have all the offensive limitations placed on him that Drew did. Because for good or bad, that’s the name of the game here In LA.
So here it is, now Drew will be under Philly’s big microscope; those fans will no doubt give Drew just as hard a look as we did, and the New Treasure, Howard will now be under ours. And if Howard continues to be so very Drew like, you can bet his adherents will join Drewhood in bringing up all the same excuses and frustrations Drew’s adherents did for years.
So far, Howard looks so very much like Drew. Just smaller and not as good on the free throw line. But then, it’s only been three games, a very small scientific sample to be sure, so we will have plenty more time to slice Howard up, game after game, play after play, put him on the glass slide, turn on the power and magnify his game under our scope that never misses a thing. Maybe we will see more eventually, than we did looking at Drew, or maybe not. That will be seen as the year goes on.
But for now, I would like to welcome the New Treasure Dwight, to the Lakers, not the Magic anymore, not to tales and stories, but now to performance we get to see, to his new situation, and to his burgeoning Drewhood. And I would be remiss not to welcome his fans, those who are already saying things like, Oh, he was in foul trouble, or, Oh they didn’t pass him the rock, or, Oh, his back hurts, Welcome friends, to Drewhood, just on the other side of the same coin. See it’s not so hard to make excuses after all, is it? When it’s your guy.
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Lakers Fall In The Opening Battle Against Clippers
Posted by: JamFan on Monday, September 17, 2012 - 01:36 AM
aka Don Allen
PIC OF THE DAY - While most of the rest of the Lakers took the night off, Kobe scored 40 of the Lakers 95 points. Hit hit 14 of 23 shots and all 10 of his free throws. He also had 6 rebounds and two steals.
BATTLE FOR LA - The opening salvo in the Battle of LA went to the Clippers 105-95. For the Lakers it was a story of to much Kobe and not enough team. Coach Brown played four of his starters 38 minutes or more and would have played Dwight Howard more except for foul trouble. Kobe went for 40 points in 43 minutes but his team didn't follow. If the Lakers are going to try and use this strategy for the rest of the season they are going to lose a lot more than they should.
But what are they going to do? The Clipper bench had another monster game outscoring the Laker's bench 46 -16. The Clippers bench scored 49 on opening night. Overall, the Clippers had 7 players score 8 points or more. Jamal Crawford led the way with 21 points for the Clippers, and Chris Paul had 18 points, 15 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. Even if Steve Nash plays, the Lakers do not have the answer for CP3 and Eric Bledsoe at the point guard position.
GAME 1 - PLAYER MATCHUPS
CENTER - ADVANTAGE LAKERS - Dwight Howard won this battle last night but had subpar game for him. He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds while DeAndre Jordan had only 4 points and 5 rebounds. Both player sat our with foul trouble and were not decisive in the game.
POWER FORWARD - NO ADVANTAGE - Both power forwards played well with Blake having 15 points, and 8 rebounds, while Pau went for 10 points and 14 rebounds.
SHOOTING GUARD - ADVANTAGE LAKERS - Kobe went for 40 points in 43 minutes while Jamal Crawford had 21 points off the bench for the Clippers. Kobe's heroic effort couldn't bring the Lakers a win because the rest of the team didn't perform.
SMALL FORWARD - ADVANTAGE CLIPPERS - Caron Butler had a nice shooting night hitting 5 of 7 shots in route to 14 points. Metta on the other had hit only 3 of 10 shots and went 1 of 7 from the 3 for 8 points.
POINT GUARD - ADVANTAGE CLIPPERS - This battle wasn't even close as the combination of Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe dominated the Laker point guards. Having Steve Nash available would have helped but he is just not fast enough to contain either one of the Clippers PG's.
THE BENCH - ADVANTAGE CLIPPERS - The Clipper bench ourscored the Lakers bench 46 - 16. Enough said.
SEASON ADVANTAGE - CLIPPERS - The Clippers have now beaten the Lakers once in the preseason, and in their opening game of the regular season.
TiIME TO PANIC YET? - The Lakers have started the season 0 - 3 for the first time since 1978. When asked about this Kobe "jokingly" asked everybody to just shut up. With tens of thousands of Laker fans still blacked out, and maybe watching Clippers games instead, this is going to be public relations nightmare until the Lakers start to win again.
THE TEAM - The Lakers have a starting lineup that is equal to the best in the NBA. They traded away Andrew Bynum to get Dwight Howard and signed Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison as free agents. Jodie Meeks, Jordan Hill, and Devin Ebanks could be dangerous weapons off the bench. Let's hope that after we have a few games with everybody available, that the chemistry starts to develope and the team starts to win. So far the bench hasn't provided much. The right pieces are in place, and the bench is going to eventually be better than advertised, they just need a few more games to get their rythym going. And our bigs need to stop any kind of penetration in the lane. Our interior defense needs to improve.
HACK-A-HOWARD - In the first game we are already starting to see a strategy of just fouling Dwight if he is close to the basket instead of letting him score. Teams are doing this consistantly against the Clippers DeAndre Jordan. Jordan and Howard both share the same deficiency in hitting free throws. Last season the Clippers literally couldn't play Jordan late in the 4th quarter. The Lakers might be faced with the same dilemma. Dwight only hit 3 of 14 free throws in game 1. To show how the tactic can backfire, Howard hit most of his free throws in game 2.
COACHING CONTROVERCY - In our Forum you are already starting to hear the drum beat of fans wondering if Coach Mike Brown is the right guy to coach this team. If the Lakers underperform, the media and sportwriters will be next. It seems a little early for this but the expectations are high and the Lakers haven't won a game yet. How long will they stay with the Princeton offense if they don't start to click. Kobe can change the offense all by himself if he gets fed up with the results. The coach can go along for the ride.....or not.
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I wait with cautious optimism the Lakers new team alchemy.
Posted by: SPQR on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 04:07 PM
After a very interesting off season, the most fecund and energetic I can remember, the Lakers are poised to regain a spot at the top of the rankings and reclaim the NBA title. The whole league and its fans no doubt bracing for an athletic and ratings Armageddon, the Los Angeles Lakers vs the defending champions Miami Heat. Kobe vs Lebron. Old legend vs new. Winner take all. Could it really get more spellbinding, more exciting, more energizing than that? For the last series comparable, you would have to travel back in time 30 years to the Magic-Bird historic finals confrontations.|
While Lakers fans rejoice in the moves of the front office and some fans of other teams no doubt viewing our off season as an NBA/Stern conspiracy to get Kobe and highly rated Lakers back into the finals. I have never bought into any of those silly conspiracy theories. The league survives and thrives over the long run no matter who the strong teams are in a particular year. No man as smart and in tune with reality as Stern would risk the very league and jail time to do something that is totally unnecessary. But regardless of how certain fans feel this came about, the maneuvering of the Lakers FO or the dark, unfathomable strings pulled by Stern, the bottom line is this season is more anticipated by Lakers fans than any in recent memory. In one summer, the whole dynamic of our team and its hopes seems to have changed from a fading has been to new and powerful championship favorite.
The last time this happened, this kind of ultra powerful, fundamental change occurred was when we signed Karl Malone and Gary Payton. This too was the last time the words Lakers super team was thrown around by so many fans and the media.
And that is why I am excited….with caution. I will never forget that day years ago when we made those signings that “guaranteed” us a super team and another ring. I was in my office. A close friend, co-worker and fellow Lakers fan, Ken, came charging in like a bull that broke from its pen. Ken is as large man, and I never have seen him move so fast. I knew something was up. Something big. And it was.
He exploded in a grin and gave me the news. “Randy,” he exclaimed, "the Lakers just signed Payton and Malone. Do you know what this means? We have the championship in the bag.” We all had heard rumors of this happening, so I had thought about it for some time before the actual event. I sat quietly, saying nothing. Ken said, “Man, aren’t you happy about this?”
I replied, “Ken, if Malone and Payton were five years younger, I would jump through the ceiling. But while we are getting Malone and Payton, it’s not the real Malone and Payton. Just shadows of what they were. Let's see what happens.”
For a while, in mid season, as they ripped off win after win, it looked like a super team had indeed been created out of the vials and vats and potions created in the front office room of alchemy by the wizards of the Lakers FO. Yet in the end, the gold it seemed the FO had made turned back to lead. Fool’s gold it was and no magic or tricks could belie that fact. And that year, the super team failed. Due to the age and declining play of Payton, Shaq and Malone, the injuries to the aging Malone, and the great play of the much younger more cohesive Pistons, the Lakers ended up losing in the finals. No matter how hard the wizards of LA’s front office tried, they could not turn back the hands of time.
That team was an object lesson in how the years can turn a once great player and a supposed super team, into something less than expected.
And once again, years later, the wizards of the Lakers Empire retreated to their lairs and room of magic and experimentation, pulled out their potions and recipes to try turn what was going bad, good again. And when they returned from their arts, their labors, we indeed have seen the results of their efforts. Once again, it has been proclaimed that our wizards have changed lead to gold, leading us to the Promised Land. I read and hear about the new Lakers super team. How the title is already theirs.
Am I excited about the additions of Jamison, Nash and others? Yes, how could I not be? And as a Drew supporter, I can’t deny I wanted him to remain. But he is gone. I understand the very mutable laws of the NBA and their rosters. Things change. Drew is gone. Dwight is here and I am ready to let Drew go and embrace Dwight. He is a Laker, Drew is not. And that is the reality I accept and go with. I hope Dwight brings everything to this team his adherents’ say he will. I am behind him 100 percent.
But once again, my excitement is tempered with caution. If Kobe, Pau, Jamison and Nash were five years younger, I would not only be jumping through the ceiling, but already waiting for the inevitable coronation and victory parade. But they are not. They all can still play, at least up to last season, but none of them is what they were. And history shows, sometimes old players can be less than what is needed, no matter their illustrious names and past god like deeds on the field of battle.
Will this team be better than last year’s team? Unless Nash and/or Kobe completely capitulate to age, or Dwight’s back renders him another case of a great athlete rendered hors de combat by injury, I can’t see any way it won’t be. And I am very excited to see what this new super team can do, as separate players and in synergy as a team. More excited than I can remember in a long, long time.
So I wait, with strong yet also cautious optimism, with high but also slightly tempered expectations. I know the great names on the jerseys, but am aware of their age. I know the mountains we they will have to climb, Mt. San Antonio, Mt. OKC. Mt. Miami. It’s going be an arduous trip, one that will tax every skill they have left. And I will be hoping and rooting like mad that this super team has just a bit more in it than our last super team that was just a few vital, precious years short of invincibility and the title it was given to it in August but could not achieve in July. That the gold will stay as shiny as it looks now and not tarnish, then blacken and revert to what we feared so much after last season.
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PG Logjam... Blake, Duhon, Morris: Who backs up Nash?
Posted by: lakeshowsd on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 02:35 PM
Until the recent trade that sent Christian Eyenga, Josh McRoberts, and Andrew Bynum packing for new cities and saw the Lakers receive Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, and Chris Duhon in return, it had been assumed up to this point that Steve Blake would be the most likely candidate serve as the primary backup for Steve Nash at the point guard spot next season. However, with the acquisition of Duhon, the point guard rotation (particularly the bench role) now looks a little bit more unclear for the Lakers. |
Obviously Steve Nash is our clear cut starter and I shouldn't have to explain why. Even at 38 years old, Nash remained one of the most statistically efficient and productive point guards in the NBA last season. There are big expectations for him and for the team in general next season, however those expectations have to be tempered by the acceptance that at his age, Nash will not realistically play much more than 30 minutes per game (he played approximately 31 minutes per contest last season). That leaves a minimum of 15 to 18 minutes per game available for whoever will serve as the Lakers' primary backup point guard next season. Those are significant minutes, and the purpose of this thread is to discuss, debate, and surmise which of our available backup points guards will take on those critical bench role minutes. Let us examine our options:
Steve Blake, 6'3", 172 lbs., 9 years pro, 32 years old (33 next February)
We're all familiar with Blake and we've had a good chance to analyze his game after 2 years with our squad. We also fully understand his limitations as a player. Over the last two seasons, I was not terribly impressed by Blake's efficiency in shooting the basketball, and I was disappointed in his lack of ability to penetrate into the paint and finish around the rim. Offensively, Blake had a few good games here and there, but he was far too inefficient for my liking, particularly with his 3-point shooting, which was approximately 33% last season. His last 2 seasons with the Lakers were far from his best seasons as a pro, and I don't know if we should realistically expect anything much better from Blake next season. We'll have to wait and see.
To his credit, Blake was terrific in the 1st round of the playoffs VS Denver, but like so many other Laker players, including Kobe, Bynum, Gasol, and Sessions, Blake was terribly inefficient in the 2nd round VS OKC. He is a fierce competitor though and I do appreciate his work ethic and ability to keep himself in top condition physically.
Chris Duhon, 6'1" 190 lbs., 8 years pro, turns 30 years old on August 31st:
Now this guy has all the tools to quickly become our next best option after Steve Nash goes to the bench to rest. I've followed Duhon's career and he can definitely play the game, but he also has some major flaws and limitations as well. I think he's a more natural playmaker than Blake and he's also developed into a solid outside shooter. My biggest concerns are with his conditioning issues, which say to me that he has a questionable work ethic, and that's a BIG time negative.
Let's be honest, Duhon was generally NOT very impressive in Orlando, and perhaps he got caught up in all the Drama surrounding the Dwightmare over the last few seasons, but I definitely like his skillset. He shot a terrific 42% from the 3-point line last season for Orlando, which is almost a full 10% better than Steve Blake! And while his field goal percentage was only 41%, that was also better than Blake. I'm a big fan of efficiency, so these are major pluses in my eyes when considering who should be our backup PG. Still, I know that Blake keeps himself in better condition and perhaps works harder than Duhon, so it's a tough call. Defensively is where poor conditioning can especially affect a player, and we really can't afford another defensive liability at the point guard position. If Duhon comes into next season in good shape, I think he may have the slight edge over Steve Blake because in my opinion; Duhon is marginally superior to Blake in terms of basketball skills, smarts, and talent.
Darius Morris, 6'4", 190 lbs., 1 year pro, 21 years old
Listing Morris here is little more than a formality. Though he does have terrific size for a point guard, he's still very much a project and a largely unproven player in most ways. After Blake went down with an injury last season, then Rookie Morris showed us that he just wasn't ready for the NBA game. Things just seemed to be moving too fast for him and his lack of jump shooting ability really hurt him.
In truth, veterans like Blake, Duhon, and Nash have way too much experience and basketball savvy when compared to Morris, and that'll be the main reason why Morris likely ends up riding the pine for virtually all of next season. Since the Lakers are not a young, rebuilding team, Coach Brown probably isn't going to risk trying to rapidly develop Morris into a significant rotation player unless Morris comes into next season looking 5 or 10 times better than he did last season. Morris would just have to be killing Nash, Duhon, and Blake in practice every day in order to prove that he's ready for major backup point guard minutes in the league. It's not impossible, but it certainly doesn't seem likely.
So what do you say, LTB? Who should be our backup point guard and get those critical 15 to 20 minutes per game behind Steve Nash? My answer right now? It's Blake's job until somebody takes it from him. While Blake has been largely a disappointment to me, he's established himself as the Lakers' backup over the last two years and he's probably one of the best conditioned players on the team. I think Duhon obviously has the best chance to take those backup PG minutes from Blake, especially if Duhon comes into next season in top shape. But with Duhon, that's a BIG 'if'. As for Morris, he'll get another season to learn from one of the greatest playmakers and players in NBA history, and if he takes those lessons to heart, maybe in a few years young Morris could be the guy who is starting for the Lakers after veterans like Gasol, Bryant, Nash, Blake, and Duhon are retired.
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Superman Flying To LA - Dwight Howard Traded To the Lakers
Posted by: JamFan on Friday, August 10, 2012 - 10:16 AM
aka Don Allen
Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall building with a single bound......look up, up in the sky, its a bird, its a plane, no its......Superman. And he is now a Laker. It makes you wonder if Dwight Howard will eventually get a new moniker now that he is in LA. But he got his moniker from appearing in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest donning a Superman cape for his final winning dunk.
How about DH...Designated Hitter.
This trade might be as simple as the Lakers being able to trade the 2nd best center in the NBA for the best center in quite some time. They were dealing with a team who had their backs up against the wall. Even though there were rumors earlier this weak that the Lakers might be losing Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, they managed to pull off this trade and keep Pau in the process. The lakers also get Chris Dujon and Earl Clark while AB ends up in Philly. In the process, the Lakers send out Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga.
This could make the Lakers the team to beat in the West, and set up a NBA Championship game against the Miami Heat next year. Can you imagine the ratings for that game? At the Lakers press conference, the highlight reel was Dwight Howard doing his impersonation of Kobe Bryant. This guy is going to be a hit in LA>
Dwight Howard was the leading vote getter in the All Star balloting last season. So, he is extremely popular around the league. But he does bring some baggage with critics who say he brought in a lot of his own personal drama to Orlando, and did not treat that franchise well. He put them into a bad position by demanding a trade, changing his mind more than once, and severely limiting the teams he would accept being traded to. This is all about the fact that he is a free agent next summer.
Will Dwight Howard commit to signing a long term deal with the Lakers? And if he does commit, will he change his mind later? If he does become a free agent next summer and bolts to some other franchise, this trade will be a bust for the Lakers. Moreover, Dwight is rehabbing from surgery on a herniated disc and has recently stated that he should be ready for the beginning of the season. Other reports are skeptical, and say he could be out until January. The worst case scenario is that he is never the same as he used to be. That would put his pending free agency next summer up in the air.
On the other hand, Dwight Howard makes his summer home in LA. He gets to play with Kobe, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol. This team will compete for a championship for several years to come. With the bright lights of Hollywood, a home in Beverly Hills, and the opportunity to play in the biggest media market in the world, this might be to great of a situation to pass on next year. Especially if the team does well this year.
On paper, on a statistical basis, the Lakers traded up only slightly. Andrew Bynum, finally healthy, had his best season this year. He went for 18.7ppg with 12rpg and 2 blocks, while hitting 56% from the field. His EFF rating was 23.5. On the other hand, Dwight Howard went for 20.6ppg with 14.5rpg and 2.2 blocks while shooting 58% from the field. Dwight's EFF rating was 26.5. He also had more offensive rebounds. In fact, he was slightly better in every statistical category.
With the addition of Dwight Howard, the lakers now have former All Stars at every position. Tons of playoff experience at every position. The best center in the league. The best shooting guard in the league. The best closer in the league. And a future hall of fame point guard to run the show. Showtime is going to be back in a big way this season.
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92 Dream team never tested against the foes it was built to face.
Posted by: SPQR on Sunday, August 05, 2012 - 01:49 AM
With the Olympics underway and new version of the Dream Team fighting for its own place in history, there has been much talk about the original 92 Dream Team. This has in part been prompted by Kobe Bryant’s contention that the new version could have beaten the progenitor of all the teams that followed.|
But what is forgotten today, especially by a younger generation of fans not yet born or too young to remember the events of 92 is the fact that the 92 team never faced the monster teams it was designed to deal with. To understand why this happened we need to look at world events that transpired between 1988 and 1992. Before 92, the USA had dominated men’s basketball, including with what many call the original Dream Team, without the name, the 1960 team that featured eventual NBA hall of famers Jerry Lucas, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson among others. This team ran through the Olympics with an average winning margin of 42.4 points and the closest game they played was decided by 24 points.
The only Olympics the USA failed to win the gold medal in was the Munich games of 72 where the USA, leading by a point was forced to replay the final few seconds three times by the referees until the Soviet Union put in the winning basket. The team was so upset by this gift to their opponents, they declined their silver medals which still are in the possession of the International Olympic committee.
But by 1988 things had changed. The Soviet block countries had learned the game and had a huge pool of young, athletic, experience players to stock their teams. The old Soviet Union was comprised of many countries such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine and Russia. The players from all these countries, ostensible part of the Soviet Union, like separate states are all part of the USA, all played for the team representing the Soviet Union. And the same held true for the communist country called Yugoslavia, composed of many separate states such as Croatia, Bosnia, Albania and Serbia. All these countries are now separate entities, but back then they all were part of the USSR or Yugoslavia.
These counties had no pro ball so the members of these teams never left the programs. They were in essence like professionals. They played with their national teams till they got old and were replaced. This accrual of talent, and the symmetry they developed by playing together all the time, all year long combined with better coaching began to produce two powerhouse teams: the Soviets and the Yugoslavs. And in 1988, it all became a confluence that threw a shock into USA basketball the likes of which was thought to be impossibility.
That year, on a team stocked with such college luminaries as Mitch Richmond, Danny Manning, David Robinson, Dan Majerle and Charles Barkely we didn’t win the gold, didn’t even take the silver. And this time our loss was no gift given by referees. The USA was soundly defeated and outplayed and had to settle for the bronze as they watched the Soviet Union defeat Yugoslavia for the gold.
The Soviet team featured such players as Arvidas Sabonis and Sarinas Marciulionis. Sabonis was not the old, fat player we remember who hobbled about on destroyed knees. This young Sabonis was fast, athletic, a master passer and scorer who had a great basketball mind. Back then, many GM’s here thought not only was he the best center in the all of basketball but perhaps the best player, period. The team was stocked with great players who never had a chance to display their wares in the NBA because by the time old Communist block players finally got permission to play in the NBA, they were too old and retired. Yugoslavia was also stocked with terrific hoopsters such as Stojko Vrankovic, Drazen Petrovic, Dino Radja and Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc among others.
After the stunning loss of 88, USA basket knew we needed a change to complete with these European Dream Teams. So they petitioned the International Olympic committee to allow pro players into the games saying that in essence, our college kids were facing professional players who never graduated college, never moved on in life but played their whole basketball lives year round on the same teams. The committee ended up agreeing with this assessment and so was born the original US Dream Team. A Dream Team specifically built to take on its Dream Team Soviet block counterparts.
And so basketball fans the world over sat and waited for the titanic battle to come in 1992. A full on court war reckoning between our Dream Team and those of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. How much better could it get? But as often happens in life, world events ended up making mince meat of the best laid plans and expectations. For between 1988 and 1992, the Soviet Communist block fell apart and all those countries that were under the communist yoke and supplied their Dream Teams with that superb talent became the separate nations they were before being subsumed by the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. So instead of having these two super teams in the 92 games to take on the Dream Team, they had fractured into many smaller, far less talented teams representing many different nations. And so the real Dream, of seeing the USA pros take on our tormentors came to an abrupt, surprising end.
As a human being, I remember the joy and happiness I felt for all those millions of people who had finally overthrown totalitarian forced rule and found freedom for their own nations. It was a one of the seminal turning points in world history. My mother’s country, Latvia, which she fled after Soviet occupation was one of those newly freed countries, so it had a personal resonance with me.
But as a rabit basketball fan, fully aware of magnitude of facing those European teams in those great games to come, I have to admit there was disappointment thinking of those epic clashes that would never happen in 92.
Instead of facing those two basketball machines, instead of finding a real challenge with dangerous, veteran foes who were deep, smart, talented and knew how to play together with perfection from years of competing together, our own Dream team was relegated to blowing out a succession of weak teams that had no chance to even compete in what was really a boring exhibition. How much a letdown can you get after waiting for years to see a massive, climatic battle with hated opponents?
And so, while the Dream Team is considered the greatest of all time, they never got the chance at revenge, to test their metal against the juggernauts that was its very purpose to play because those teams simply did not exist anymore.
Would we have won? Yes, I think we would have. As great and synergistic as the two Soviet block giants were, how could you not pick our team? But man, what I wouldn’t have given to see those three teams go at it on the stage that was all set up for them to do it on. I still think of what we missed. Basketball fans are the poorer for it. Who knows what we all missed, what we may be talking about today when we discuss that special American team of 1992?
One final thought: Do you think the members of our Dream Team were disappointed they never got to test their mettle against the two teams they were built to face? Well, looking at that roster, you guys know that answer as well as I do. They had to have felt even more loss than the millions of basketball fans did in never going up against the very powerhouses they were designed to overcome.
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