Stray Bullets

EL SEGUNDO, CA - MAY 11: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during 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)

I'm still trying to get a handle on what's going on in Lakerland.  While I have no problem with the Mike Brown hire, I do have some concerns about the way in which the Lakers front office went about it.

If you haven't been catching up these past few days, it's become clear that this team is now primarily run by Jim Buss.  He doesn't want to just be an owner, he wants to be THE personnel guy.  His show.  His decisions.  His people.  Being an owner and next in line, it's certainly his call to make.  

The Lakers have been pretty successful these past few years.  While success is a team effort--it takes good coaching, good players, and good management--it sure helps when the greatest coach and one of the greatest players are at the forefront.  Except that hasn't been enough for Jim Buss to appreciate.  He'd prefer it his way.  The way the Lakers have gone about pushing Phil Jackson out the door a second time, and now not bothering to consult the cornerstone of their franchise points towards something completely unrelated to business nor basketball.  Pride.

"Organizations win championships..."

Remember that quote?  It was once said by Jerry Krause, General Manager of the Chicago Bulls from 1985-2003.   He was certainly right in a sense.  Strong organizations that make sound decisions financially or personnel wise are typically the ones that succeed year after year.  That success isn't solely because of management.  Unlike any other league, success in the NBA lasts due to a partnership between management, coaching and the players.  

The Bulls fell apart after Krause pushed Phil Jackson out of the door, Michael Jordan retired, and Scottie Pippen left.  It's taken 13 years for them to return to prominence.  They've done so by sound decision making, great coaching, and being lucky enough to draft Derrick Rose.  All three factors together.  

Now back to the Lakers.  Their recent success has been a combination of all three.  I hope that that trend continues, but so far, it seems that the Busses feel the same way the Bulls management felt in 1998.   Just like the Bulls in 1998, the Lakers have pushed Phil Jackson out the door.  Not once, but a second time.  This was after forcing him into a pay cut the year after winning a championship.  Say what?  Think about that.  Doc Rivers just got an extension.

The Lakers then follow up pushing out Phil by conducting a coaching search without bothering to consult Kobe Bryant.  It's fine for front offices to choose the coach.  Players' judgement can often be clouded, but we're not talking about just any player.  We're talking about a five-time champion in Kobe Bryant.  whom the team just extended for the next three years for $83.5 million.  Who also happens to be notoriously headstrong.  Oh, and he has a no-trade clause.  Let's just say he has some power in this situation.  He's the piece that holds everything together.

I will agree with Dr. Buss and son that a player shouldn't make the coaching decision, but knowing how Kobe is, would it have hurt to let him know what is going on?  Upon first hearing about Mike Brown as THE candidate, I thought "there's no way this happens without Kobe's blessing."  This is his team.  He's publicly stated his support of Brian Shaw, so if the Lakers are going to do this, surely Kobe is well aware of it.  Right?

Nope.  He was supposedly blindsided and all reports are that he isn't too happy about it.

Still, Bryant happens to be one of the sharpest basketball minds in the NBA, an ability to see the game in its most overt and subtle ways. So why wouldn’t you want Bryant’s input? Why wouldn’t you want to lay out to him the plan and vision of returning Bryant and these Lakers to championship basketball?

Mostly, Lakers vice president Jim Buss had a habit of antagonizing Jackson, and he’ll regret it should that be the basis of his relationship with Bryant now.

The San Antonio Spurs wouldn’t hire a coach without discussing names with Tim Duncan(notes). Steve Nash(notes) gets immense input – probably too much – with the Phoenix Suns. Those two aren’t twentysomething’s at the apex, but they should still be afforded the chance to have names pushed past them. Bryant? The Lakers can still win titles with him. He’s no ceremonial franchise player. All they had to do was say, "Hey, what’s our feeling on Rick Adelman? Mike Brown? We’re balancing these strengths and weaknesses. What do you think?"

Jim Buss is running the Lakers now, and this is a frightening proposition for everyone. Bryant doesn’t have a strong sense of Brown, sources with knowledge of his thinking said. He hasn’t offered a blessing or a condemnation. 

Those words are from an article by Yahoo's Adrien Wojnawrowski.  If you haven't been paying attention, he's been Kobe's go-to-guy in the media ever since ESPN climbed into bed with LeBron James.  When Woj writes articles titled, "Lakers should've consulted Kobe on Brown hire," it's not just another article pt together from sources.  There's a very good chance it comes from Kobe himself.

Does this sound like a partnership?  Or Jim Buss effectively telling Kobe to "fall in line," just as Bryant told Andrew Bynum after being swept by the Mavs?  Kobe was wrong then, and Jim Buss is even more wrong now.  In order to keep this ship going forward, both are going to need to realize that championships aren't won solely by the front office, nor one player alone.  

 

  • The Lakers desire to to close the door on the Phil Jackson Era sealed Brian Shaw's fate.  The nail in the coffin was probably Kobe's remark about Andrew falling in line.  It meant he wanted status quo to remain, and obviously Jim Buss wasn't interested in that.  Bynum is his guy.
  • I don't think the Busses wanted to move away from the Triangle, I think they wanted to move away from Phil.  They couldn't stand him.  My gut also tells me that Jim and Kobe hate each other.  Oh boy.
  • Not only are the Lakers looking to go in another direction, but they are apparently cleaning house within the organization.  They've fired numerous staff, including scouts, equipment managers, and their assistant GM, Ronnie Lester.  Lester was with the Lakers for 25 years, and supposedly found Andrew Bynum.  
  • Kareem did say the Lakers didn't care.  Is this true with the new Jim Buss regime?  We wrote Cap off, because Kareem's a jerk and his statue argument was stupid, but I wonder.  Was Kareem just first?
  • Are we sure that Jim Buss isn't really Donald Sterling's kid?
  • LakerNation's Kam Pashai (@KamPashaisaid: ""Lakers are the only sports team to sign a new 3 billion dollar TV deal and start cutting back."  I thought that was funny.
  • Just like that, Lakers fans went from "Don't say LeBron had no talent playing with him in Cleveland!!!" to "Look at what Mike Brown did with LeBron and nobodies!!!"  
  • Don't be that fan.  The answer lies somewhere in the middle.  The Cavs were better than given credit for and Mike Brown did a hell of a job coaching them.  Oh, and that LeBron kid is pretty good.
  • If you think the Lakers could have done much better than Mike Brown, keep in mind that only Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich are active coaches with rings.  Mike Brown's resume is as good as any other coach's out there.
  • Boston fans wanted Doc Rivers gone before the KG and Ray Allen came to join Paul Pierce, now look.  He's the toast of the NBA with a fat contract.  We all know how they won their title.  DEFENSE.
  • The Lakers decided to transition into a defensive team before the 2009-2010 season when they inserted Andrew Bynum into the starting line-up for good, and acquired Ron Artest.  Expect that trend to continue.  Hence, Mike Brown.
  • The Cavs were pretty decent offensive teams in those last two years.  They failed against great defenses, because they ran the same boring high pick and roll with LeBron.  Those Cavs aren't as talented on offense as this Lakers team is or should be.  But if they can prevent the other team from scoring every night, I'll take it.
  • If you're most worried that Mike Brown won't command the respect of Kobe, then show me a coach besides Doc, Pop, Pat Riley, or Mike Krzyzewski that would for sure.  I'll wait...
  • The fact that LeBron failed with Mike Brown will motivate Kobe even more.  It's a chance to show LeBron up.  
  • I really hate to say this, but LeBron is balling his ass off right now.  Credit the man.  But if the Heat win it all, I only have four words:  He. Better. Had. Won.
  • So is Dirk Nowitzki, and because Dallas has the shooters to prevent the Heat from packing it in, and Miami has no one to check Dirk, I'm going to pick the Mavs in 6.
  • If it goes 7, then the Heat will win.
  • Magic Johnson has the most boring Twitter feed ever.  Talk about Captain Obvious.  I don't need him to tell me that @swish41 led the Mavs to victory.  I know, but don't worry Magic,  I still love ya.  Just stop your slight digs at Kobe and the LeBron slobbering...

  • If you followed me on Twitter, you'd know all of this already.  So do it:  @wondahbap
  • That was a shameless plug, and so is this...See y'all.  Today is my birthday.  I'm getting old, but Magical.

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