When you mention the word Lakers to any basketball fan the different words will come to mind, Magic, Wilt, Kareem, Worthy, Shaq, Kobe and all other later greats recently the name Dwight Howard was mentioned and former MVP Canadian Steve Nash can be included in those word association. (well other than the words Champion and perhaps the Celtics – due to their rivalry and other lore or lores that such as the Magic Baby hook, Fisher’s .3 will make the cut as well).
Before the start of the NBA season as discussed here in this blog as well, the Los Angeles Lakers pulled the trigger that landed them prized center and former Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic while giving up the oft injured Center Andrew Bynum (which landed in Philadelphia). Suddenly the world is abuzz, with the recent signing of veterans Nash and former All-Star Antoine Jamison the Lakers we’re suddenly the team to beat, retaining some of their core from championship past such as Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol, the chance of tying the Boston Celtics with the most titles in the NBA is suddenly becoming a reality (Celtics has 17 NBA titles while the Lakers sits in 2nd place with 16). With Coach Mike Brown steering the Lakers, it seems nothing could go wrong, and of course the collection of talent the Lakers have in their fold, Brown will have a field day on what to do, and how to molest defenders while he shuffle and make mismatches on defense and offense, and of course expectations where high, even with the resurgence of the Oklahoma City Thunders, the always consistent San Antonio Spurs, and the surging Memphis Grizzlies the whole NBA and I daresay the twitter and facebook world went nuts, fans celebrated others show concern on chemistry and others proclaimed them to be a shoo in champs or at least a Finals Berth. Analyst breakdown the Twin Towers of LA and how Kobe and Nash can molest the perimeter and the paint with their penetration and shooting.
Fast forward to the start of the season, they suddenly find themselves humiliated by the Portland Trailblazers (they registered an L against the Dallas Mavericks the previous night), where Kobe Bryant registered 7 turnovers and with Steve Nash out of the line up because of injury. Despite winning against the Detroit Pistons (in an emphatic fashion) and once again dropping the ball against the tough Utah Jazz team, Mike Brown was fired as head coach after a dismal start of 1 W with 4 L.
With Brown’s firing as head coach, the chances of seeing Phil Jackson back in the City of Angels and coaching the Lakers is at an all time high. The management reportedly went on to ask Jackson to have his job back and Phil REPORTEDLY meditated on whether he will come back (like a Zen). The world and the Laker Nation waited on the edge of their seats but the stars did not align properly. In a shocking turn of events the Lakers hired former Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni, who is known for his high octane offense that he ran with Nash and Amare Stoudemire (now playing for the cross conference rivals the New York Knicks) and the rest of the Phoenix Suns. The Suns enjoyed a huge amount of success with D’Antoni as he brought the Suns back a top of the NBA mountain though not winning an NBA title, D’Antoni’s Phoenix team was beloved because of their offensive style of play which relies on running, quickness and agility to outscore opponents and leave them to dust. While D’Antoni who previously coached the New York Knicks (with Amare and Carmelo Anthony and once with Chauncey Billups now playing for the Los Angeles Clippers) to a minimal success (though he introduced the world to Linsanity by giving him a chance to play and run the injury riddled NYK team).
Everything seems to be sunny in LA, with Nash returning to the floor and Howard slowly getting his groove (and to some extend up to this time he’s slowly getting his grove back) and Gasol and Kobe providing veteran leadership the Lakers looked or seemed to be heading to the right direction. Though the WINS are not coming in bunches the Lakers are still finding their identity with D’Antoni and the coach finding the right spots for his players and how to slowly drive the D’Antoni system into the teams persona, then suddenly a bad dream struck. The Lakers suddenly lost 6 straight games to the East Coast Rival Philadeplhia 76ers, Staple Center Rival and City Rival The Los Angeles Clippers, Conference Rival the Denver Nuggets, The Houston Rockets, another rival in San Antonio, and the young OKC Thunders. With their Win Loss card at an atrocious 15 W to 21L the Lakers rebounded with solid wins against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers and the improving Milwaukee Bucks, the future looks bright despite Pau’s injury the Laker fans are looking with much optimism against Lebron James and the Miami Heat. Though the Lakers lost the game due to bad late game decisions, people have seen improvement and the Lakers are ready to jump and kick into high gear, this was also Pau’s first game after sitting out because of an injury though they were sparingly used together by D’Antoni, due to offensive efficiency. They played horrible the next game eventually losing to the Toronto Raptors (where Howard was ejected in the game with a questionable Technical Foul) and took on the Chicago Bulls @ the sold out United Center, the game where D’Antoni named Earl Clark as the starting Forward while Gasol and his US$ 17-19M ass would have to come off the bench in favor of Clark and Howard despite having a solid Olympic run with Spain. The Lakers on the other hand we’re a disgrace against my favorite team. The Bulls hounded Howard, forcing him to pass off, loss his balance, turn the ball over, miss the FT, shoot bad shots, and sit on the bench for most of the game. While Kobe had a rough night against Bulls sophomore guard/forward Jimmy Butler making him shoot the ball horribly. Gasol on the other hand had a solid outing with 15 points and 12 rebounds it wasn’t enough to help the Laker cause. The Bulls loss was also famous for Craig Sager talking to Pau and the world was able to hear it first hand.
Now, Pau Gasol I talked to before the game—he is not at all happy with the decision. He says, “I have never been a role player in my life; I don’t like it right now.”
I said, “What about a possibility of maybe your time with the Lakers coming to an end with the All-Star break…the trade deadline?”
He said, “It certainly looks like a possibility to me.”
The Laker drama just never ends, while in between days off Bleacher Report and its loyal followers went abuzz about what team would need the services of Pau, though articles suggests that teams such as theMavericks (where Marc Cuban declared they will make moves, they too having a disappointing 2012-2013 campaign), The Minnesota Timberwolves, and even their opponent a few hours from now The Memphis Grizzlies had their names thrown in a fantasy/rumor mix of trade possibilities for the Spaniard. While that was happening, Kobe has also voiced out his frustration by telling Yahoo! Sports that:
“Obviously, this isn’t working,”
And to take a line from Y! Sports. On the issue of Howard’s belief that the ball simply doesn’t go through him enough on offense, Bryant rejected the premise.
And Kobe’s response was a chilling.
“I’ve tried to go out of my way to get him the ball,” Bryant told Y! Sports. “Sometimes I end up looking like an idiot, because I get up in the air, I’ve got a shot, but I try to find him. But he thinks I’m going to shoot, so his back is turned. I’m trying to think about getting him the ball a lot – take care of him as much as I possibly can. It takes me out of rhythm a little bit, but I’m fine with that. If that’s going to help our team, I’m more than willing to do that.”
And you can read all about his frustrations in this article just follow the link below.
In that video as well Shaq went out of his way and even said that:
They (the Lakers) probably won’t make the playoffs.
To make matters worse or worst or maybe beyond that, Howard was reportedly growing unhappy( http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/8871264/sources-los-angeles-lakers-growing-concerned-unhappy-dwight-howard ) apparently he hasn’t signed an extension and a Howard trade is also a possibility. Sorry but the story was written while I’m trying to finish this so perhaps I’ll write it in my next piece.
Either way people can attribute the Laker woes to either of this stuff that I thought of.
1. Bad coaching. To echo the sentiments of Bill Simmons, if you can’t put your best players in your gimmick system then something is wrong. Just like I said in all D’Antoni’s team, they can’t guard a parking lot.
2. The Lack of Chemistry, can be attributed to bad coaching as well and perhaps the wrong mix of players in one team, Magoo Marjon of FTW sports even went on to say that the Lakers should look for a bar fight where they can be together and build chemistry from there.
3. Jim Buss. Damn this guy made some bad decisions this year, he didn’t hire the right replacement since he fired Mike Brown (where he should have stayed patient) and not keeping the primadonna named Dwight Howard. Howard hasn’t signed an extension which puts the Lakers in danger, imagine at the end of the season and if the Lakers didn’t make it to the playoffs or make a strong run at least in the Conference Finals, Howard might be out of town again. “Good job”.
With that I close this piece and with a heavy heart and say that if they don’t Fire D’Antoni, Free Pau Gasol or Dwight Howard, or at lest they can’t find the right chemistry to run their team and of course Jim Buss suddenly tries keeping all the pieces together and in a way make some moves or at least make them accounted for their millions and millions of fans. With that I see them struggling to make the playoffs with 41 games left they should start this Laker Superteam working.
Thanks to BleacherReport and DailySportsPages.com for the pictures.
Special thanks to BleacherReport and Yahoo Sports for insights and opinions and of course the quotes.
Mid way to the season the lakers are 17 – 24 Win Loss card.