The 2019 Los Angeles Lakers – The Post-Mortem
In a departure from my usual “in-depth” style (read “in-depth” as “long-winded bloviating”), I’m going to keep this short and sweet. The dynasty known as the Los Angeles Lakers is officially dead.
Let’s be honest. The Laker dynasty has been circling the drain for quite some time, but the final blow came a few weeks ago. Los Angeles Laker legend and at the time President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson hit the “off-ramp” with what appears to be absolutely no warning. it is obvious that whatever made Magic pull the rip cord had to be something sufficient enough to flush a 40-year relationship down the crapper. It’s well-known the Lakers are a “family” business having had a Buss in control for over half-a-century and with the general way the organization is run. It’s also a safe assumption when you have a member of the family of such lofty stature as Magic giving the “double-birds” on the way out the door, both the mystique and the familial nature of the Lakers are gone.
As a life-long Laker fan, many people have asked for my thoughts on what may have happened. So, for those of you asking me what the final cause of death may have been, I can honestly tell you this:
I don’t have the first fucking idea.
What I can tell you is this seems like the perfect time to use Aristotlean logic to take some thing we do know to surmise what we don’t. So, let’s see if we can figure it out together, shall we?
FACT #1) I couldn’t have been more wrong about the whole “LeBron ends the Lakers as a dysfunctional family” thing.
I must have been smoking hash, chugging varnish, and licking toads when I thought that. In my defense, this was all about when LaMarcus Aldridge refused to sign with the Lakers stating they were a “dysfunctional family.”
Everybody seems to have forgotten two years ago when LaMarcus Aldridge refused to even speak with the Lakers about free-agency as he called them a “dysfunctional” family. Now that Jim Buss has been exiled to the Laker version of Elba, there could not be a better indicator the “dysfunction” has been dispatched than the signing of LeBron James.
The belief was that if the Lakers could sign the biggest-name free-agent on the market, there was no way they could be “dysfunctional.” Turns out that was like believing a family that is all together can’t be “dysfunctional” just because that one “funny” uncle with “boundary issues” is finally out of jail.
FACT #2) No matter how big the Staples Center is, there clearly isn’t enough room for all the egos.
This all starts with the fact I was suspicious of how a Lebron-Jeanie Buss relationship was going to work for exactly that reason.
I have all the respect in the world for Lakers controlling owner and team president Jeanie Buss. I often wonder why her name doesn’t come up more often when we discuss successful women in American business. That notwithstanding, she became the unquestioned ruler of Laker Nation when she staged a palace coup d’état wresting control away of the team away from her brother Jim and subsequently exiling him to the NBA version of Elba.
Short of Wal-Mart, the Los Angeles Lakers are the world’s most successful family business, and Jeanie Buss sits at the head of the table. Considering what she’s gone through to get there, ti doesn’t seem very likely she would be willing to hand the keys to a short-term hired hand.
Also, we can’t forget that Magic was the face of the whole “Lebron as a Laker” thing. In than a year, that went from Laker fans planning the victory parade to a complete shit-show. Throw in the fact the general manager Rob Pelinka has a reputation around the NBA for his likability somewhere between that of hangnails and hemorrhoidal flare-up, once there was a failure, there was going to have to be a “fall guy.”
This brings us to…
FACT #3) Luke Walton was the first “fall guy,” and he won’t be the last.
Walton earned this distinction simply through the “process of elimination.” Even if Magic hadn’t hit the highway, he was a “made man” in the Laker mafia, so he wasn’t going to get whacked. Pelinka was just a buffer; most Laker fans don’t even know who he is. LeBron was just the “hired gun;” the only way to get rid of him was to trade him and his contract makes that practically impossible.
Guess who that left? Don’t cry for Luke Walton; he’s already landed a job in Sacramento which in a lot of ways is a step-up from the Lakers.
Yeah, I can’t believe I just said that either. But’s it’s true. Walton doesn’t have a cry-baby superstar which has divided his team and will throw just about anybody under the bus. He doesn’t have a dick-breath GM everybody hates, and he has far less of a mess to clean up. Not to mention, he doesn’t have to do any of this on a flagship franchise which promises to be a soap opera until the winning starts again…if it ever does.
The Lakers are still a dysfunctional family. The Lakers are an organization in which one can see the seeds of a power struggle. The Lakers currently don’t have a coach, and finding one is going to be interesting to say the least, because there’s one great big turd in the punch-bowl nobody wants to talk about…the whole “Lebron in Los Angeles” thing was all about #MLGA – Make Lakers Great Again.
It’s clearly failed.
Given everything I’ve just mentioned, it seems clear that Magic’s departure means that goal isn’t happening anytime soon; there’s just too many moving parts at this point. In the NBA, coaches play a huge role in where free-agents sign, and in Los Angeles, there’s likely soon to be a gigantic pissing contest over that. Lebron has had input on coaching hires everywhere he’s been, but as I’ve said before, I don’t think Jeanie Buss staged a palace coup ousting her brother only to hand keys to the aforementioned “hired gun.”
But, it’s also clear that for the #MLGA plan to work, the Lakers have to get another “big gun.” Any of the available routes have their own obstacles; they can trade up in the draft, they can try to trade for an existing player, or they can try to sign an available free-agent. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves said obstacles; my point is all those routes have a common problem…
The Lakers themselves.
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