Let’s Get Ready for the New Season

laker_dad

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).

Advertisements

How Stern Exacerbated the Sterling Saga

chris-paul-sternHey LakHer fans! Hope you didn’t miss me too much!  I am back after letting “legal expert” Adam Waks take over for a few days. The Sterling debacle has lead to a lot of discussion and debate. It has stirred up a lot of emotions for everyone who has been touched by this story.

Adam covered some of the legal issues surrounding this saga in the last few days, but now I want to look back a bit further. People have been criticizing the NBA for failing to take action against Donald Sterling sooner. There have been accusations for years: between the DOJ settlement and the Elgin Baylor termination lawsuit. People want to know why the NBA didn’t take action in those cases. Well, without going too deep into the legal issues (since I like to leave those to Adam), I can say that they probably did not have a choice.

The DOJ case was settled, and that does not necessarily mean Sterling was guilty. Of course, we now can all believe that Sterling was guilty, but people settle for various reasons. He may have thought it was cheaper to settle than fight, certain pieces of evidence brought up at trial could have tarnished his reputation, or he simply did not want to deal with the negative publicity. During his press conference, Silver explained that every allegation was investigated; unfortunately, once the case was settled, their investigation probably ended as well.

The same goes for Elgin Baylor. I will always have faith in my Laker, but he lost his case in court. Sterling was given due process, so the NBA was cornered. The NBA cannot punish Sterling on Baylor’s word alone, especially once the courts ruled in Sterling’s favor. My fans may be unhappy with this view, but since I come from a family of lawyers (sorry Grandma Barbara), I must respect the process.

Of course, there have been other allegations over the years. Baron Davis accused Sterling of heckling him during practice. I have no idea if those allegations were investigated. However, it is public knowledge that NBA have tried to convince Sterling to sell in the past, therefore it would make sense that they would try to get as much ammunition as possible to entice him to sell.

Now, here is where there is a wrinkle in the story. In December 2011, David Stern forever tainted his reputation as commissioner by vetoing the Chis Paul trade to the Lakers. Stern let owners like Dan Gilbert bully him into overturning a trade. There was no legitimate reason for this veto; the owners were simply tired of the Lakers getting superstars.

There is a reason why the Lakers attract superstars. We had a wonderful owner in Dr. Buss, we are located in beautiful Los Angeles, and we are one of the most successful franchises in history.

Owners can bemoan all they want, but we are a great organization. However, that year David Stern had the power to veto a trade made by the Hornets. It is ironic that I am complaining about how Stern took over a team from an owner, but I am rejoicing in Silver doing the exact same thing to Sterling. Believe me, I see it.

However, this move was catastrophic for everyone. First off, we ended up with two unhappy all stars, and eventually had to trade Lamar Odom for draft picks. Those draft picks eventually led to the acquisition of Steve Nash (see this whole veto is still biting us in the ass).

Next, and more importantly, Stern gave CP3 to Sterling on a silver platter. For 30 years the Clippers had been a punch line, but now they are contenders.

The acquisition of Chris Paul substantially increased the value of the Clippers. Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million back in 1981. However, the Milwaukee Bucks were recently sold for a cool $550 million. The Bucks are a small market, unsuccessful team. This means that we can expect Sterling to make a huge profit by selling the team. Big offers will come in from the ever expanding list of interested celebrities. He will make a much more substantial profit now, then he would have if that trade had never been vetoed.