The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been good since early 2010 when Kobe Bryant led his team and won the championship against the Boston Celtics. Since then it’s been all crickets.
What is arguably the most popular brand in all of sports, outside of maybe the Dallas Cowboys, has not lived up to expectations and that was certainly transparent this year.
But Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss gave an interview recently where she confirmed how bad it really got this year behind the scenes.
The Los Angeles Lakers last won a championship in 2010 and Kobe Bryant finally retired in 2016. Even in that six year window they tried to make moves so that Bryant could capture his sixth title and tie Michael Jordan for six, but it never materialized.
In 2012, they acquired big-man Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash to pair with Bryant and all-star power forward Pau Gasol. They became instant championship contenders with those moves.
The only problem was that Howard whines like a child and is indisputably a locker room disruption and Nash was always hurt due to his severe back problems. Bryant became the primary ball handler and single-handedly wielded his team to the 8th spot in the places but a couple of games before the playoffs, he tore his achilles.
That was pretty much the last of Bryant. After his retirement in 2016, the Lakers hired legend Magic Johnson to be the President of Basketball Operations where he drafted Lonzo Ball with the second pick of the 2017 draft, which hasn’t turned out all that great. They were awful that year.
But then they signed free agent and greatest basketball player in the world, LeBron James during the last offseason. And… it didn’t really work out either. They were recently eliminated from the playoffs in what many are calling a disastrous year for the organization.
Jeanie Buss is not happy either.
Buss said to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, “There was a story that came out this season – and we’ve had our challenges this season – and it kind of made me doubt for a second some of the people that I was working with.”
We’re already off to an explosive start here.
Buss continued, “Instead of calling the media who were reporting it, I sat down with the people that I work with and had face-to-face communication and realized that that was what we’re dealing with now in this day and age, that the stories come so fast and furious that they try and get you off-base. And they get you off from the direction that you’re headed. And you’ve got to have faith in the people that you’re working with and that trust and communication, and that comes with face-to-face time. Because texting and email can lose context and tone. And you need to look somebody in the eyes and really restore your faith and restore your direction. And that’s important for leadership.”
What her comments really scream is a diffusion of responsibility.
LeBron James has always been called by critics as a player-General Manager; meaning that he makes a lot of executive decisions on player acquisition and undermining the head coach if he feels like without any repercussions. He’s done that with literally every coach he’s ever played for in the NBA and in some cases has resulted in their termination.
But there’s no way that would fly with Magic Johnson. It’s likely that James and Johnson are working in tandem with each other but there’s no doubt they bumped heads on player acquisition.
But Buss is smart and if she’s dysfunction than it will be handled. She doesn’t care if it’s her friend Magic Johnson whose relationship goes back to when she was just a teenager.
They better get it together fast though because this is one of the best free agent off seasons in NBA history. Nobody wants to play for a dumpster fire organization even if it is the Los Angeles Lakers.