EL SEGUNDO, CA - MAY 11: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers leaves a news conference at the Lakers training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Amidst searching for reasons why the Lakers fell down flat against the Mavs, I can't help but keep my mind on Magic Johnson's oh-so-public pleas to break the team up.
What does it mean? Why now?
Are we really to believe that a team that just made three straight FInals and won back-to-back Champions just went that stale for good that fast? Everybody and their mother expected the Lakers to three-peat this year. Well, save for Celtics fans still clinging to the myth that a KG-Paul-Ray-Rondo and Perk five never lost a series,or those shiny new Heat "fans," or Mark Cuban, or John Hollinger (or all of
The HEAT Index ESPN for that matter). Point is, the Lakers were heavily favored, healthy, and had recently had an post All-Star break run in which they went 17-1. Even though they sputtered down the stretch, we're supposed to think that the Lakers are permanently the team that lost 0-4 to the Mavs?
At face value, Magic's plea for blowing up the team seems completely foolish and very premature. Given Magic's stature in the Lakers organization and the relationship he shares with Dr. Buss, could there be just a little more to it? Magic no longer owns his 4.5% stake in the Lakers, but he's still a team Vice President. So, he's not just an ABC/ESPN analyst giving an unbiased opinion on the team. He's an executive telling the world the team must change in a major way.
Excuse me for talking like a conspiracy theorist, but Magic has Dr. Buss ear. Could it be that he was merely echoing the thoughts of ownership? Especially considering the Dwight Howard in LA rumors that have quietly grown stronger. It sure seemed more like a declaration than legitimate question. I just don't completely understand the point.
So, the Lakers lose in horrific fashion after a great run, and we're to be sold that it's all over. Phil Jackson is out, the team is tired and must start fresh. That only happens if it were actually true or something better (if possible) might come along. I doubt anyone feels the Lakers are incapable of finding their groove and desire next season. There must be more to it. More like #12 for the Orlando Magic.
Its far easier to sell the idea of drastically changing a championship squad after losing so badly, and with the head coach leaving. Dr. Buss supposedly never liked the Triangle and has been itching to push Jackson out of the door. This team is built around the Triangle (I guess), and Dwight wants in. Here's Magic to ease us into the idea that this team should be taken apart. Even after handing out millions in extensions in the belief that this team could win Championships for the next 3-4 years, the time is now to make the Kool-Aid.
- If the Dwight rumors are real, no one will complain. Especially now. If the team is broken up, and it isn't for Dwight? Dem haz some 'splainin' to do.
- Except Kobe, maybe? If this team is broken up and Superman 2.0 enters, Kobe will just get more"he plays with great players" arguments against him. Stupid or not. If the rumors are real, this was Kobe's last chance to kill any argument forever.
I feel one of the main problems that Lakers had this season, if not the solely, was that this was more of Kobe's quest for another Championship than anyone else's. Outside of Andrew Bynum's desire to establish himself as a star, what major significance does another ring mean to any other Laker?
Does Pau get upgraded "greatest power forward" ever conversations? The greatest euro ever? No and maybe.
How about Lamar? Fish? Ron? Just another championship. Even the new guy's just get to count a ring that the team was good enough to win twice before them. This was all about Kobe's sixth, and the collective hunger just wasn't there. It wasn't as important.
But if Kobe could match Jordan, and win another three-peat in doing so? In a year that LeBron and Dyane Wade joined forces? Wow.
That's three in a row, twice. With two completely different sets of teammates. He passes Magic, ties MJ, and no matter what happened after, nothing could ever be taken away from him. Because no one ever wins four in a row these days, so anything else is gravy. This was the last year for Kobe to make sure the new guard never earned shit on his watch.
I don't think the rest of the Lakers wanted to win as badly as Kobe did and they played like it. So if Magic does think the team has lost it's edge, maybe he's echoing Kobe's frustrations with the lack of desire spoiling his glory.
- Kobe might win another won, but if it isn't with the team he has now, it won't be viewed the same. Of course, I mean by critics. Think you've heard all of the Shaq, Pau arguments now? Add Dwight to that mix. Ugh.....
- Just playing devil's advocate.
- There is something Kobe said yesterday that bothers me:
per Marc Spears, Yahoo!:
In regards to Bynum’s offensive demands that he made Tuesday with local media, Bryant stated that the ball should continue to go through him first, Gasol second.
“Ultimately, he’ll have to fall in line because I’m gonna shoot the ball,” Bryant said. “We all know that. Pau is going to get his touches. He’s No. 2. And then [Andrew] will have to fall in line.”
I have a problem with Kobe's bristling, because Andrew's feelings of being ready for more are along the same lines of Kobe's belief in himself that he should be the alpha dog leading his team to Championships. This is how Kobe felt with Shaq, and Kobe proved right. Now he says Andrew should "fall in line?" Why should he?
As far as I'm concerned, Andrew outplayed Pau for a whole half of a season, and far better in the Playoffs. Do I think he should automatically become the #2 option? Not necessarily, but I think he made some major strides in proving he could be. Just like Kobe did once upon a time.
So instead of Kobe making his territory and sounding more like a stubborn goat protecting his turf, and laying down the rules. He should be proud that Andrew feels ready and be willing to give up some power. Kobe of all people should respect Andrew. What I never want to see if Kobe's view of himself to ever exceed reality. The more he talks like this, the more I feel he will take advantage of the rights he earned even when he shouldn't.
- Kobe, make your teammates want to win it for you as much as you want it for yourself.
- Read this article from The OC Register's Kevin Ding.
- There are Lakers fans and there are Kobe fans. Ultimately, there are more Lakers fans than Kobe fans, and I hope Kobe realizes that the Lakers matter more than he does. Please, I hope he never makes us choose sides.
- Shannon Brown has a player option for next season. Speaking of Kool-Aid, I doubt he find a team that drinks it? Where's Travis Outlaw's agent? He had me sold a little bit in the early season. He was taking Kobe-lite type of shots, but they were falling. He would infuse the energy of the game and crowd, but we waited for the other shoe to drop. Boy, did it.
- I would not lose sleep if he stays, but I won't be sad either.
- Not only does Steve Blake resemble Caillou, but the man got chickenpox! Have they've ever been caught in the same room? He's a toddler. No wonder he couldn't shoot.
- Jordan Farmar? I apologize for anything I ever said about you. Sasha, I miss you.
- I kinda understand if Pau was going through some personal issues that affected him. I've gone through some things myself that have affected my ability to participate on this very site. Except I don't get paid $14 million to do it. So, I understand it on a personal, human level. Just spare me the supposed girlfriend problem stories. That's not good enough for me. I'd rather hear that he was physically fatigued.
- Andrew's laying out of JJ Barea was cheap, but if there's any silver lining, I doubt anyone will test Andrew at the bucket for years to come. Especially if he's mad. It'll resonate.
- Remember, no one ever tested Shaq. It helps.
- If Pau had a little nasty edge to him, we'd be waiting for the Thunder to hurry up already.
- I guess I'll root for Dallas for the rest of the Playoffs because they whooped us, and I'd have no problem with Dirk winning one. It would feel justified, I guess.
- Or Chicago because they aren't the Heat.
- Don't be a poor sport and forget about the NBA because our team is out. Watch the games. Talk about them. I have a word for fans who check out when their teams do: Bostonians
- Lamar Odom is my Lakers Player of the Year.
- If the Heat do win it all, I guessing some fool will write something about Spoelstra winning with talent, then mention Phil Jackson and try to discredit his accomplishments by stating he had the best players. I'd bet on it.
Simply remind them that Jerry Sloan has none; George Karl has none; Mike D'Antoni has none; Gregg Popovich never won back to back, never mind three 3-peats and a back to back; Doc Rivers only won one with his Celtics squad; Del Harris also had Kobe and Shaq and two other Allstars - he has none; or that Shaq only manged one more without Phil.
Great players and championships aren't given. Greatness should never be expected. Phil had great players, but they were their greatest under his coaching.
- Having said that, God I hope Kobe can win another Title without Phil. Imagine what that'll mean for Kobe?