Ding Dong Jimmy’s Gone

magic-johnson-calls-out-jim-buss-just-say-you-made-mistakes-2015True LakHer fans will notice that I have somewhat recycled my blog post title, but it was too fitting not to reuse. After years of torture, Jeanie finally fired her brother and Mitch. When I wrote my blog earlier this month, I thought we would have to wait until this summer to see this moment. However, Jeanie realized we needed new blood to get us through the trade deadline. Kudos to her.

My jubilation is mostly focused on Jimmy, but Mitch has proven to have questionable judgment so I am glad he is gone too. The Lakers needed a clean slate with new management. This opinion was only amplified after Bleacher Report released this scathing article about Jim and Mitch. This article outlined all their questionable decisions, but the worst one by far was the Chris Paul trade. It was revealed that we could have traded Andrew Bynum for Chris Paul without Stern vetoing the trade. However, Jim Buss refused because of his obsession with Bynum. I didn’t think I could hate Jim more, until I read that piece.

Twenty four hours after this article was released, and Jeanie finaly made the right decision, even if it took her “too long.” Now our legendary Magic Johnson will replace Jim Buss (talk about twisting the knife). I am going to start off by being cautiously optimistic and also skeptical. I am not sure if Magic can flourish in this role. Ex-players have struggled in this role (Jerry West excluded). While putting this post together, he made is first trade with the Houston Rockets. They got Lou Williams, and we got Corey Brewer and a first round draft pick. My initial reaction wasn’t positive, but I will wait until after the trade deadline on Thursday. It appears that Magic wants to play the draft game and stockpile those assets, but I want to see the strategy behind this move before I commit to a position. Magic sold Jeanie on a vision and plan, something that Mitch and Jim clearly lacked, so I want to watch this play out over the next couple of days.

Also, while putting this blog together it appears that the Lakers are going to hire Rob Pelinka as the new GM. He is a famous agent for athletes, and represents our very own Kobe Bryant. I have mixed feelings about this move. On the one hand he has relationships with players all over the league. Additionally, he appears to have a high basketball IQ and business mind. These are key factors in assembling and recruiting a team. He has been on the other end of these trades for players before, so he knows a different angle. The biggest con for him is his lack of front office experience. He is an agent, not an exec. I see this being either a completely brilliant move, or one that will blow up in our faces. Again, I am choosing to be cautiously optimistic.

Until Thursday, I am choosing to focus on my joy. We are turning the page on this very dark chapter in Lakers history. We will not fix this team overnight, but Jeanie has finally untethered the Lakers from her incompetent brother. Now she can run this team the way she wants without worrying about his feelings. If Magic and Rob turn out to be busts, I do not think it will take her this long to fire them, or for me to criticize them.

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Return of the Magic

Time is ticking, and Jim Buss should be worried. Rumors starting swirling after Magic Johnson met with Jeanie Buss on January 17th about the nature of their meeting. Reports came out that Jeanie was looking to Magic for advice on the direction on the Lakers. Fast forward 3 weeks later, and Magic is now an official adviser for the Lakers.

Magic has been one of the most outspoken critics of Jim Buss (present company included), so fans like me are interpreting this move as the beginning of the end for Jimmy. His self-imposed deadline is coming up, and I have always been curious to see if Jeanie would have the stones to follow through with it. Jim has insisted he has one more year left, but she disagrees. Bringing in Magic shows that Jeanie recognizes that changes need to be made, so why not start by bringing in one of the greatest (and most popular) Lakers in history.

We can argue all day long about who is the greatest Laker in history, but no one questions who is the most beloved. Magic has always loved the spotlight whereas Kobe and Kareem have attracted plenty of negative press and controversy over the years.

The past couple of summers have been miserable for attracting free agents. It would be easy to simply blame our poor roster, but free agents like LaMarcus Aldridge have spoken out about the poor presentations. It is no secret that players do not like Jim Buss, and that Mitch Kupchak is a bit socially awkward, whereas Magic oozes charisma while also being one of the most respected players in history. If he is running the show, the Lakers will suddenly regain some of their “Showtime” allure.

Magic says we are one star away from competing with Golden State or San Antonio (per his Instagram). I have to disagree, since they have multiple stars, and last I checked we had 0. Also we have the third worst record in the league, so that will take more than just 1 Carmelo Anthony to fix. For the record, I think we have some great building blocks. I love our young rookies, and they have shown some great promise. However, they are going through some serious growing pains, and we need more veterans to help shape them. If Magic thinks we can become a top team with just 1 star, then I look forward to seeing what he can do this summer. I will always have the utmost respect for Magic (as a player), but now that he is stepping into the role, I vow to hold him accountable like I do for Jim and Mitch. Buckle in LakHer fans, it is about to get exciting!

Let’s Get Ready for the New Season

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My dad and I at the game last year- April 3, 2016

After a 6 month long hiatus it is time for the Lakers to suit up for a new season! I am very excited to start watching them play again. Before I preview the new season, I must look back at our last game:

Kobe’s Last Game

At the time, I couldn’t bring myself to write a blog about it. I sat on the couch with tears streaming down my face as I watched Kobe put up 60 points for the last time. I went through all the stages of grief watching that game.

He single handedly won that match. He played 1 on 5, just like he did back in the mid 2000’s. It was pure domination, so I went through the denial phase. I began to think that maybe he didn’t need to retire, and that he still had it in him. Then I would see him panting on the bench. He was putting on a show, but he could barely breathe. It was time for him to walk away. Now I was angry, because I looked around at the players surrounding him and could not imagine any of them carrying this team the way he has. He has played this game almost my entire life. I cannot remember a time when Kobe didn’t suit up in the purple and gold. How could anyone else be the face of my team? Then I started think about the Lakers’ history. Before Kobe there was Magic, and before Magic there was Jerry, so surely there is someone out there that the Lakers will scoop up and turn into a superstar right? Then depression kicked in when I started to think about who was running this team. Jerry Buss wasn’t going to work with Jerry West to draft Magic, and then convince him into staying with LA instead of bolting for Detroit. Instead, all we have is the incompetent son, and a GM who’s best trade to date was Jerry West’ doing. I sat there, watching the game, and thinking about all of this before I finally came to acceptance. I realize that it might take years, before the Lakers are playing at a championship level, but we will eventually get there. The team wasn’t always owned by Jerry Buss, and we had great trades made by GM’s other than Jerry West. Eventually, the Buss kids will figure out how to run this team, or (more likely) will hand over the reins to someone who can.

It is still hard for me to think about Kobe being retired. When Shaq was traded, and they broke up the original championship team, I was very angry. However, they eventually brought in Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom which lead to a new era. Kobe has always been the constant, but I know it is time to look toward the new talent to carry the torch.

Looking Ahead

Yesterday we had some big news. Yi Jianlian asked to be released from the Lakers, and they obliged. I was disappointed that we signed him in the first place. If you do not know who I am talking about, he was the star on the Chinese team during the Olympics this summer. I didn’t want him on the Lakers because I think he lacks the work ethic. Apparently Yao Ming really wanted him to be his mentee, but Jianlian was unwilling to put in the work. I can happily say good riddance. Now let’s take a look at the rest of the players on this finalized roster.

D’Angelo Russell may have butted heads with Byron Scott, but he appears to love Luke Walton. Thus far, the players are responding to him well, so that is a good thing. Russell did seem to improve over the summer, but he still has a lot of work to do. The same goes for Julius Randall and Brandon Ingram. We have a very young team, so there are going to be growing pains. I know fans are really excited that the Lakers did well in the pre-season, but please remember that those games are not indicative of how a team will play in the regular season. Most teams only play their stars for a few minutes. Those games are for the rookies and new acquisitions.

Remember back in 2012 when the Lakers went 0-8 in the preseason? That was the summer when we got Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Fans couldn’t believe it, but I didn’t think much of it. People look back on that season and say it was terrible, and by Lakers standards it was. However, we made the playoffs in a competitive western conference. Granted, with that talent we should have done better, but Steve Nash went down in the beginning of the season, Kobe tore his Achilles, and then Dwight Howard was forced to lead the team while still coming back from a major back injury. All things considered, I think we did pretty damn good.

So, where does that leave us? Pretty much where we have been the last couple of seasons. I anticipate our young players improving substantially, but I still see us as a below .500 team, barring a major trade. Luke Walton is now our coach and leader, but this is going to take years, so let’s buckle in and play the long game. In the meantime, let’s enjoy our young, versatile, and athletic youngsters playing some Warrior style ball (with a ton of turnovers).

Managing our Expectations

Walton-600x400I am a little late to the party on this post. For that I am extremely sorry Teri and Christy. Now that my apologies are out of the way, why don’t I jump right in on the discussion of the Lakers’ new hire?

First off, I want to discuss the firing of Byron Scott. I have thought a lot about it, and I have decided it was a good idea. Now, I do think he did almost everything he could do to win games. We had a lousy team, and you cannot win without talent. However, I feel that he did a bad job working with our rookies. He openly criticized them to reporters, and constantly benched them for long stretches. Overall, I think he failed them. I understand that he felt they needed to earn playing time, but he didn’t need to undermine them in the press. When D’Angelo Russell had his scandal with Nick Young, Scott said he was most disappointed that they were unable to keep this in house. I wish Scott could have listened to his own criticism. I believe he was fired because the rookies had lost all faith in him, so the Lakers needed to make a change. Now it is time to analyze that change.

The Lakers went ahead and hired Luke Walton right away without even interviewing anyone else. This move was not surprising. For months I have expected this to happen. Luke received a lot of praise for how he coached the Warriors, and he played for the Lakers under Phil Jackson. This hire seemed inevitable. However, I think it is really important that we manage our expectations.

We are getting Luke Walton, not Steph Curry. While I greatly admire Luke Walton and believe that he will make a great coach one day, we need to understand the situation. Luke was coaching a team that just came off of winning a championship and was fighting to repeat and break a record. He was not coaching a team full of rookies. Golden State was great under Steve Kerr, and they remained great under Luke Walton. I do not think he had too much to do with their success. He had the presence of mind to simply stay out of their way.

When Luke comes to L.A. he will be inheriting one of the worst teams in the NBA. Kobe has just retired and there is no one currently there to fill that void (another blog on that to come later). Barring Kevin Durant coming to the Lakers, (which seems extremely unlikely) we are going to be in an even worse position come October than we were last season.

I will remain hopeful that we will get the top pick, and that Mitch can pull of some free agency/trade miracles for us, but in the meantime I must give the hard truths to my readers. The hard truth is that Luke Walton is not our savior, he is merely a building block.

Luke wants to run the Lakers on a similar style to the Warriors. Since our roster is filled with young and athletic players, this seems like a good idea. However, we must remember that instead of Steph Curry setting up the plays, we will have Russell, and instead of Klay Thompson jacking up threes, we will have Jordan Clarkson. Needless to say, our current roster can’t hang with the champs.

The Sex and SnapChat Scandal

1280_dangelo_russell_gettyYesterday, I sat in my kitchen watching D’Angelo Russell give a press conference to apologize for recording a video of Nick Young confessing to cheating on his fiancé Iggy Azalea. All I could think was: “Are you kidding me? How could this kid be so stupid?”

Let’s back up a day and breakdown this whole situation. On Tuesday night this video went viral for the world to see. When that alert came up on my phone I simply stared at it for a minute in disbelief. Then I rolled my eyes because I could believe it. All year, both D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young have shown their immaturity and poor decision making.

Byron Scott has come under fire for constantly criticizing them, but they need it. Whenever Scott has complained about their maturity, they simply say they ignore his comments. That should show just how immature they are. If your coach and leader is telling you that he doesn’t approve of your behavior, then the appropriate response is to evaluate what you are doing and try to make adjustments.

This all came back into the media last week when Nick Young was accused of cat calling and sexually harassing two women. I didn’t write a blog about this issue when the story broke. Clearly this is a he-said-she-said situation. I have my own opinions about what happened, but I have no proof, so I will let you all come to your own conclusions.

Now that I have gone on my rant about their childish behavior, let me get back to the main scandal at hand. When I listen to all the excuses both Russell and his supporters have made for him, I just get annoyed.

He claims this was a personal video that he never intended for anyone to see. We all live in the digital age. We have seen a plethora of celebrity sex tapes and nude pictures. Nothing is safe from hackers, and if just one person gets something private, then the world will see. Russell knows this. In high school he was recruited for college. Since I went to college only a few years before him, I can assure you all they gave us the same warnings. We are all told to be careful on social media and not to post anything anywhere that might be damaging. After Russell went to college he was then scouted by the NBA teams. I am sure their PI’s looked into him even more closely. Therefore, he knows better. Any notion that he didn’t think this would be found is simply disingenuous.

Also, this video supposedly came from SnapChat. Everyone in my generation knows that nothing on SnapChat really disappears. People can save anything you send them. Additionally, now SnapChat also allows you to view pictures and videos for a second time. This gives a viewer ample opportunity to save the video/picture or just take a screen shot on their phone.

D’Angelo said this video was a prank gone wrong. My question is: How is this funny? Do you see anyone laughing? Nick Young and Iggy Azalea are clearly not laughing since their engagement might be over. The Lakers organization doesn’t find this negative publicity amusing.

People have been saying that Russell broke the “Bro Code.” I resent that statement. He didn’t break “Bro Code,” he broke the “Friendship Code.” Friends never secretly record each other making incriminating statements. That is something a blackmailer would do. Friends do not break up relationships. Friends do not make their friends look bad. Friends do not publicize their friends’ secrets.

Some of my feminist readers might be wondering why I am not yelling at Nick Young for cheating in this post. My answer is simple: it is none of my damn business. Whether or not Iggy decides to leave Nick is her decision. Nick Young is not my fiancé. He is the player on the Lakers. I only care about him in a professional capacity. If I could only root for players who were faithful to their wives, then I would never watch sports. Players “extracurricular activities” are none of my business, and never should be made public.

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Now that the video is public, you might be wondering how this will affect the Lakers. Well, on Monday night (the Lakers were aware of this video going public) the Lakers suffered their worst lost. They lost by 48 point to Utah. In that game, the players refused to pass to Russell or even sit next to him on the bench. At the team breakfast he was also forced to sit alone.

Russell

The trust is gone from the locker room. I have spoken a lot about having faith in the future of the franchise. I was very hopeful for this young core group. However, this incident is going to cause a huge problem. There have already been trade rumors. I believe that we will see Nick Young either traded or waived this summer.This is the core of my anger: Russell screwed up the chemistry and the future of my team.

Despite everything, Russell is still the future of the franchise and the Lakers need to hope that he can mend fences with his teammates. They were able to win in overtime yesterday, so maybe not all hope is lost.

Time is on his side, and it is possible. Kobe did reveal Shaq’s infidelities back in the day, but no one seems to care anymore. After the game, Kobe spoke to the press about forgiveness and being human. For one more week, Kobe will be the leader of this team, so we will see how much he can influence his team.

Maybe Russell will take this new found hatred and develop a mamba type alter ego like Kobe did after his arrest. Only time will tell, but it will be a long road.

Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day aka national practical joke day, but I have a feeling that the Lakers two biggest jokesters will not be playing any pranks.

Game Analysis: Lakers V. Spurs

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My Dad Pretending to be Kareem Before the Game 2.19.16

Hello LakHer fans! I know it has been a while, but here is a little post from my night at the Friday game. The Lakers faced the Spurs for the last time in Kobe Bryant’s career. Surprisingly, it was a competitive game. There were spurts where we actually looked like a good team, but we could not sustain that kind of momentum for a full 48 minutes.

The downfall really came in the final 2 minutes. Kobe dislocated his finger, but in true Mamba form he wouldn’t let a pesky injury stop him. Gary Vitti popped Kobe’s finger back into place and Kobe went back onto the floor. It was inspiring to see glimmers of the vintage Mamba throughout the game, but Kobe really stuck to his roots and insisted on trying to win the game by himself. He continued to throw up horrible shots that had not chance of becoming baskets until he finally left the game.

The end was disappointing, but not surprising. The Spurs are the second best team in the west, so we never really had a shot of winning. However, I was surprised by the energy we played with, and how the Spurs didn’t play quite up to their usual standards.

Here is my takeaway from the game: right now we are a terrible team, but we have some pieces to lead us into a bright future. This year is all about Kobe, but in a few short months he will take off the Lakers uniform for the last time, and our rookies will take over the team. They are very inexperienced, but I see some raw talent. I love Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle. These are really young men with the potential to be all stars.

However, barring some blockbuster free agent signings or trades, the Lakers will not be making the playoffs for a few years. That is a tough pill to swallow, but we are in a complete rebuild mode. Currently, the only worthy veteran on our team (excluding Kobe) is Lou Williams. He is going to need some help. Mitch is going to sell the hell out of these young guys to get the likes of Kevin Durant to join our team.

Lastly, I wanted to put my fans on alert that I will be attending Kobe’s second to last game. He will be taking on the Celtics on April 3rd. I will try to write more posts in the next few months, but definitely be on the lookout for a post at the seasons end.

As usual, thank you to Mike Alder for the tickets!

Changing of the Guard

resizeBefore the Lakers lost to the Pacers, the inevitable announcement finally came: Kobe declared his retirement at the end of this season. I am going to use this blog post to personally thank Kobe for making me the Lakers fan I am today. Kobe has been a Laker for 20 years, so I do not remember a time when he didn’t don the purple and gold. During his reign, many greats have come and gone from the Lakers (Shaq, Pau, Malone, etc.), but he has remained. He is always in the conversation for not only “Greatest Laker of All Time” but also “Greatest Player of All Time.” I can sit here and spew all the stats of why he is so incredible, but those deserve their own blog post.

This blog post is about love and appreciation. Kevin Durant said it best when he called out the media for treating, “One of our legends like shit.” I have been so angry listening to people complain about how Kobe is playing. This man has thrown everything into basketball. He has played through countless injuries and came back from one of the worst injuries imaginable. Many people forget that when he tore his Achilles he actually went to the free throw line to make those two shots. They were necessary to make the playoffs and he did it on one leg. Can you imagine any other player in history who could have the composure to make those shots? I remember watching those free throws and crying. I thought that was the last time I would see Kobe play, but that just shows how naïve I was being.

Charles Barkley loves to say: “Father Time is undefeated,” so now it is time for Kobe to join the ranks of players who eventually succumbed to the losing battle. Can’t we take a moment to praise him for fighting for so long? Instead of criticizing him for playing for 20 years, let’s simply say “thank you” for giving it your all. People love to complain that he is a shell of his former self and not worth watching anymore, but when he finally hangs up that uniform and walks away, we will all miss him.

Michael Jordan came back and had an uneventful run with the Wizards, but we don’t remember that. Instead, we speak fondly about how he was the GOAT. We talk about how he played with the flu, took on the “Bad Boys” of Detroit, and created a dynasty. That is the legend we remember.

This season has been incredibly difficult to watch. The Lakers are a terrible team, and Kobe isn’t the same dominant force he was a few years ago. I will admit that this blogger has not watched many games this year. However, I am making a new vow to rededicate myself to watching because after April, I will no longer get to see #24.

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