Despite being one of the most historic teams in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers have made head-scratching mistakes a habit.
As a Los Angeles Lakers fan of 38 years (I’m named after one), I can no longer come from a place of love for my favorite team in the city.
Every day, regardless of who owns, makes player personnel changes, coaches or dribbles the ball there seems to be one story after another of boneheaded decisions to just outright incompetence.
Monday was no different as reports came out that the script that was going to be used to pitch free agent Paul George leaked to Sports Illustrated’s Robin Lundberg. There is nothing secretive or revealing in it, but the fact that they couldn’t keep their talking points out of the media’s hands before they could pitch it to George is just another signal that a once great franchise is broken.
It’s gotten so bad that last week the team front office lead by president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka had to have a meeting discuss avoiding violating the NBA’s tampering rules; because Magic and Pelinka were fined last year for discussing potential NBA free agents like George.
Like any great entity, the crumbling of the foundation doesn’t come down to one big moment but more to a death of a thousand cuts.
Perhaps it was the illness that took away Dr. Jerry Buss from the day to day operations of the team and entrusted fully the team to his heirs.
Almost immediately the team was split in two and neither side was on the same page from day one. Jeanie Buss as President of the team’s business side and Jim Buss as the team’s head of basketball operations turned the Lakers into the NBA’s worst soap opera.
Despite being the team’s representative to the rest of the league, Jeanie was not made aware of the Chris Paul trade that was vetoed by the league, she was never included in decisions on coaching changes and was left out in free agency pitches.
Jim presided over the rapid decline of the basketball team going from a title in 2010 to the lottery by 2014 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2013. It should be noted Jeanie had the power to fire him over his continued incompetence. What she did instead was deferred to emotion admitting:
“This was a very difficult decision,” Buss said on Spectrum. “It was probably so hard for me to make that I probably waited too long. And for that, I apologize to Lakers fans.
Now on the precipice of another free agent summer with a supposedly better outlook and unified front, the Los Angeles Lakers still can’t get out of their own way.
So who broke the Lakers? Was it the death of their longtime successful owner Jerry Buss or was it the ongoing soap opera between his two heirs Jeanie and Jim? The reality is there isn’t one thing that broke the team.
It was a series of many moves by many players in this drama. So for Los Angeles Lakers fans, who expect that one swift move that creates an all-star team will turn everything around, brace yourselves for another rough summer.
Call me pessimistic but there isn’t any evidence that the people in charge know how to turn things around. On July 1 get ready for more of the same Lakers fans — disappointment.