Mamba Busters

LakersKobe has been taking heat his entire career, but recently, critics have stepped it up a notch. Now they are claiming that the Lakers would be better off without him. We would certainly be better off without the massive contract, but not without the man.

That theory has floated around a bit for years, but it really came to head when the Lakers crushed the Golden State Warriors last week without Kobe. Kobe took the night off to rest due to all the ailments that come with old age.

After the impressive win, the reporters started asking whether the Lakers would be better without him. After all, they did play an amazing game without him. However, this game was a fluke. Sorry to burst your bubble Lakers fans. It is very common for teams to rally together and play a great game after their leader goes down.

My theory proved to be true when the Lakers suffered yet another Christmas Day Massacre. This one hurt even more since it was dished out by former Laker Pau Gasol.

Kobe did return last night, but unfortunately we still lost. You may say that this fact busts my theory. You may say that once Kobe returned everything went bag again but in reality it just shows the simple fact: the Lakers are a terrible team. Regardless of whether or not Kobe plays, we are going to lose and we are going to lose a lot. Sorry for the pessimistic note. However, with Kobe we at least have a fighting chance. The Lakers are 8-20 with Kobe, but without him we would have lost even more games. Remember, we went 1-2 without him in the lineup. We need players who can get their own shot, and right now he and Nick Young are the only ones doing that.

Instead of discussing whether or not the Lakers are better with or without Kobe, we should be discussing the inconsistency of Boozer and Lin. Right now the Lakers only have 2 consistent scoring threats. However, when Lin and Boozer play well, then they open up the entire floor. I am singling them out since we know they are capable. It is not unreasonable for me to expect at least 15 points per game from each of them. They have done it in the past, and they managed to step it up in Kobe’s absence, so now they need to do it on a consistent basis and stop relying so much on the Mamba. Otherwise they can say adios to LALA land.

The only way in which the Lakers benefit from Kobe’s absence is that it does force other players (like Lin and Boozer) not to rely on him. We constantly see them “Kobe watch”: that is when they just pass him the ball and stand around to see what he does. I do not blame Kobe for that, I blame the players. They need to stop being so dependent on him. He is 36 years old and has suffered multiple injuries; give the poor guy a break!

We are going through tough times in Lakerville, and I know that we all want to blame it on a scape goat (that’s what my favorite Buss siblings are here for right?), but we have to remember to appreciate Kobe. He is a legend, and we are so lucky to be able to witness his greatness. Years from now the next generation will ask us about watching him play, just like how I ask my dad about the Magic and Jerry West days.

Kobe is a hop skip and a jump away from retirement, so instead of wondering whether or not the Lakers play better without him, we need to cherish every single minute he is on the floor, because it won’t be long before his jersey is hanging in Staples with the rest of our legends.

A Week in Review 12/7-12/14

My Dad and I at the Lakers v Hornets game 12/7. Thank you Mike Alder for the tickets!

My Dad and I at the Lakers v Hornets game 12/7. Thank you Mike Alder for the tickets!

Hi LakHer fans! I decided I had too much to talk about this week, so I hope you enjoy this week in review! Here are the important stories that came out of LALA land last week.

Lakers lose to New Orleans

For the last 4 years I would go to NOLA’s arena with Abi to watch these two play each other, but this time I changed things up and watched them at Staples. Unfortunately, the highlight of the game was my halftime cake with my dad. Unlike me, the Lakers didn’t show up for the game. It was a blowout, so I do not have much to say. I only do work on my end when the Lakers will do work on their end. Regardless of the game turns out, I always have a blast, so thank you Mike Alder for the tickets!

“Soft as Charmin”

One of the biggest stories of the week was the media coverage of a Lakers practice. Reporters watched as Kobe verbally bitch slapped his teammates. It is no secret that Kobe is a trash talker, but these comments really took people off guard. Some of his teammates, like Lin, were even visibly upset by them.

Personally, I didn’t really get what the big deal was. This is Kobe being Kobe. If the players were upset by it, then they really are as “soft as Charmin.” Kobe admits his leadership style doesn’t work for everyone and that it can upset players at times, but he was trying to motivate his team. I would like to point out that since he made those comments, the Lakers are 3-0 and one of those games came against the defending champions.

Charmin responds to the Kobe drama

Charmin responds to the Kobe drama

Kobe did acknowledge that the trash talking was a bit harsher than usual, but that’s what happens when you are losing. He told reporters that the whole conversation actually made him a bit uncomfortable, because he obviously doesn’t want to hurt his teammates, but he grew up trash talking. He even said that it is a lost art. Maybe his words were a little harsh for a fellow teammate, but I have certainly heard worse things come out of Garnet, Miller, and Pierce’s mouths. I mean, Reggie Miller grabbed his crouch during his game and made a chocking sign, I think that is a bit more offensive.

Speaking of chocking…

“I Can’t Breathe”

I try to keep these posts basketball focused. If I am not talking about the game, then I am normally talking about what is happening behind the scenes. But this week something bigger than basketball happened. It all started when Derek Rose came out for warm ups wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt. For those of you unaware, this was in reference to Eric Garner’s last words before he died after being put into a choke hold by police.

Police brutality has been a big issue in the country for the last 2 weeks, and the conversation does not seem to be going away. After Rose wore the shirt, LeBron followed suit, and then so did the entire Lakers team (minus Sacre). The shirt made a huge statement, so much so that even our president came out in support.

I Can't Breathe

There is a long history of politics seeping its way into the sports world, so it is not surprising that this issue has taken over the NBA. This league is predominately comprised of black players, so they were going to take a stance since this issue has been trending with #blacklivesmatter.

Personally, I am very happy that the Lakers took this stand. I will fully admit that I have been very upset with all the violence that has been happening and the lack of indictments. Wearing that shirt is a peaceful way for the Lakers to show their disappointment with our system, and get the issue lots of attention. Unfortunately, right now most of that attention is going to the handful of looters and violent protesters. Prominent figures like Kobe, Rose and James can help adjust the conversation.

#3

Last night Kobe hit a very big mile stone. He passed Michael Jordan and took over the #3 spot on the scoring list. It was a great moment and I am so thrilled for him. The Timberwolves showed class by stopping the game to present him with the ball and acknowledge the moment.

I know everyone wanted Kobe to pass Michael with a fade away shot, but honestly it really doesn’t matter. No one will remember the exact shot that passed Michael. Kobe got it on a free throw because like Michael, he knows how to draw fouls.

On the subject of 3’s, I have to talk about our Swaggy P’s game winner against San Antonio. When that shot went up I was convinced we were doomed. Ginobli was all over Nick Young, but good defense was defeated by better offense. I guess he’s right in saying nobody can guard him! Congrats to Swaggy for the amazing shot, and thank you for giving us Lakers fans an exciting game against our longtime rival.

Speaking of San Antonio, I would like to take a quick moment to recognize Tim Duncan. In our match up on Friday, Tim passed our very own Jerry West for 18th on the scoring list. While it is never easy to see someone else take a spot from him, I truly admire Tim Duncan. I would love to just hate him. For years he was our biggest obstacle, but he is an absolute class act. He is a future hall of fame player, and I really can’t find anything negative to say about him. That drives me crazy! So congratulations Tim Duncan, you deserve it.

Buss Kids Interview

This week the dynamic duo were on damage control, since you know, the Lakers are losing and Kobe is busy comparing his teammates to a product people wipe their asses with. Therefore, they decided it would be a good idea to give a joint interview. We all know that I could spend hours talking about the Wonder Twins, but I will save you the time and just give you the highlights:

Tanking is Unforgivable

Jim and Jeannie put the notion to rest that there would be any chance of the Lakers tanking the rest of the season, per Magic’s request. I understand the damage it does to players and a brand. That doesn’t mean that I do not see where Magic is coming from. I do want that draft pick.

Jeannie is still upset about the D’Antoni hiring

Let’s take a look at this Q&A:
Jeanie, you have been on record as saying that the Lakers let Dwight Howard down. What did you mean by that?
Jeanie:
It came down to hiring a coach. [The Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni in November 2012.] When you have a big man and a guard, you have to decide whom you’re going to build your team around. The choice was to build it around Steve Nash and what suited Steve Nash instead of what suited Dwight Howard.

I have to say that she is right on the money. The Lakers picked a coach and built around a 38 year old point guard instead of the young Super Star Center. If you keep reading the interview, Jim tries to backtrack and blames it on Jerry. Sure, go ahead and blame the dead guy who can’t defend himself, classy move Jimbo. Needless to say it is a fascinating segment.

The Lakers have Virtually No Game Plan

When Jim is asked about his pitch to free agents this summer, he says, “The pitch is we can go for two max players. And we have room to solidify the team with others.” Yes Jim, you have the money to sign them, but why on earth do they want to play for you? Unless players decide to pull a James-Wade-Bosh and all meet up in one place, then it isn’t going to happen. We are a terrible team, and players have no faith in ownership. Kobe is our only real asset and he is on the verge of retirement. Needless to say, if this interview was supposed to give me faith for the future, then it failed miserably.

Jeannie Doesn’t Anticipate the Lakers Missing the Playoffs

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I am sorry, I thought that was a joke?

Jim is sticking by his Promise

I brought this up in my last post how Jim said he would step down if the Lakers are not back on top in 3 years. He reinforced that promise in this interview. Jeannie supported him and said the Lakers are on track to be on top in 3 years. (Another joke)?

I have already exhausted this issue, but I am happy to see him not back peddling.

Let the Countdown Begin

NBA1400-LAL-ZM-1It is no secret that I am not Jim Buss’ biggest fan. I have written many blog posts criticizing his management style (and hair). Today though, Ben Bolch of the LA Times impressed me with his analysis of Jim Buss, and the time line he laid out for Lakers fans. Just to recap: back in April Jim promised us Lakers fans that the Lakers would be contenders in 3-4 years, if he could not deliver on that promise, then he promised to step back from the team. Bolch discusses two very important issues in this article: the Lakers approach in the off season, and actually waiting 3 more years to see in the inevitable. While I agree with many of Bolch’s points, I see things slightly differently.

When it comes to the off season, I mostly agree with Bolch’s initial analysis, “[Jim Buss] used an all-or-nothing approach the last two summers and there was no need to guess which side the Lakers came out on. Their resulting rosters weren’t going to make the playoffs, fully intact or not…Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak failed to bring in the kind of mid-tier free agents who would have kept the Lakers competitive and provided tradable assets, instead waiting for, well, what, exactly? The summer of 2015?” I have always preached that the Lakers needed to be bulk up and be prepared for the summer of 2015, but I didn’t mean that they should fill their roster with scrubs. You need to have assets to lure free agents to come play for you, and right now the Lakers are severely lacking in that department.

One of my biggest dreams for the Lakers has been for them to acquire Brandon Jennings. I have wanted him on our team since he was drafted in in 2009. A couple of weeks ago he came out and staunchly defended Kobe Bryant. He proclaimed his desire to play with the superstar and said he would have multiple rings by now if he was a Laker. He will be a free agent in 2016, but he could have been a free agent in 2013 if we could have gotten involved and stopped his sign and trade to Detroit. This talented point guard was the runner up to “Rookie of the Year” and will be a superstar. I want him on our team! Block is right, we need more mid-tier free agents, and he is one of them!

Bolch discussed the 2015 free agency class, and essentially dismissed it. He doesn’t think we can get any of the big players and downgraded a bunch of the high valued players. I disagree with Block on his assessment of Rondo. The relationship between Rondo and the Celtics has been deteriorating for years, and everyone knows he will leave if he isn’t traded first. I can see no better way for Rondo to give that organization the middle finger, then by leaving it for its biggest rival. I will however agree with the injury concerns that Bolch mentioned. I do not believe they are as bad as Nash, but it is something we would have to be aware of.

I will also agree with Bolch’s assessment of Kevin Love, Dragic, and Gasol. Barring some big catastrophe, I do not see him walking away from James and Irving. Once that trade was completed that eliminated all hope of him playing for the Lakers in the near future. I also agree that Dragic and Marc Gasol are long shots. They will probably stay put unless something major happens. Sorry to burst your bubble fans, but I do not want to fill your head with false hope.

I still think Aldridge is a possibility since I do not see Portland getting out of the second round. Portland does not have the same allure as LA, so I think it is very possible he could jump ship with the hopes of luring in other players with him.

I will also concur that Greg Monroe, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap, Omer Asik and Wesley Matthews are more “complementary pieces than franchise-altering stars,” but we already discussed the Lakers need to get those types of players. Therefore it is crucial that the Lakers acquire at least one of those, especially if they are unable to catch one of the big fish.

Lastly, I would like to discuss Ben’s fear of waiting 3 years for the inevitable to occur. Unlike Ben, I am going to take a more optimistic approach. Since Buss set this deadline there are really only 2 outcomes.

First possible outcome: the Lakers are still dreadful and Buss steps down. This appears to be the most likely scenario, especially given the Lakers current 3-13 standing. This is the worst case scenario, but it will end up working out for the best. After the 2018 season if the Lakers are still bad, then Buss will step down and put someone else in charge, and that person will most likely be more competent than Jimbo. They can’t be worse right? Therefore we will actually have someone to put the Lakers on track to greatness again. Sure it will suck to be terrible for multiple years, but it may be a necessary sacrifice for Buss to see that he is not the man for the job. Once the Lakers can get good management in place, then LA will be a desirable destination again. Change in management can change everything (just ask the Clippers).

Second possible outcome: Jim rises to the pressure and actually puts together a good team. This outcome would be fantastic for the Lakers. Everyone is happy (except for Mark Cuban) and we have a young management team that proves they can put a good team together. As long as players have faith in an owner/GM then they will gamble on them. No one ever doubted Jerry’s ability to put together a great team, and that is why every player in the league wanted to play for the Lakers.

Technically, there is a third possible outcome: the Lakers are still terrible in 2018, but Jim Buss refuses to leave. Personally, I do not see this being very likely. The media in LA would hound him, and I do not think anyone would take him seriously again. Jimbo has put himself into a corner and he is going to face the music. The worst case scenario if the Lakers were still terrible in 2018 would be that he hires a figure head who takes credit for all the decisions, but is the one actually making the decisions.

Despite all my instincts telling me otherwise, I am going to choose to remain optimistic and hope that Buss rises to the challenge. Mitch is a great GM and I highly doubt that he is on board with all the decisions and strategies that Buss is currently implementing. My hope is that Buss realizes he is over is head, and starts taking Mitch’s advice more seriously. Otherwise, we will always have 2018.

P.S. Great win against the Raptors!