It's always fun when someone makes news by pointing out the obvious. Robert Horry has done so with comments he made at the ESPY's last night that were published on the LA Times website this afternoon. Asked what the Lakers need to do to restore their championship form, Rob zeroed in on the position that was pretty much an oozing sore all season long: point guard.
No disrespect to Derek Fisher. Derek is long in the tooth. I've been there, done that. They need a point guard who can distribute the ball, get everyone in order and not be afraid to tell Kobe no. You can't outrun age. I think age has caught up to him.
Rob's off base in one respect. Fish is actually not at all afraid to tell Kobe no. It's everything else that's the problem. He stopped being a starting-caliber PG a few years ago. At this point he should be transitioning into an assistant coach's chair, but he remains at the top of the Lakers' depth chart because of residual affection for his past heroics and the team's yearly failure to draft, sign or trade for someone good enough to displace him.
What interests me about Rob's statement isn't the substance of his point about Fish, which is indisputably correct, but how it shows that Fish's immunity to criticism is starting to break apart. For years Fish has had a privileged spot in Lakerdom, held aloft from even the mildest public opprobrium. We, the unaffiliated media, of course have long questioned Fish's viability as the Lakers' starting point guard. But a code of silence has prevailed within the organization that prohibits anyone from speaking ill about him.
Think about when Phil Jackson used to "coach through the media" by zinging his own players. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest... everyone had to take their share. But not Fish. When people within the organization have diagnosed why this or that loss took place, it's always: Kobe broke the offense, or Pau was too passive, or the bench got outplayed by the other team's. Nobody's allowed to point out that it's sometimes hard to win when your point guard shoots 1 for 6 every third game and can't really guard anyone.
Robert Horry isn't employed by the Lakers, but he is a Lakers insider. As a revered member of the Laker diaspora, his statements carry weight that others' do not. So to hear a guy in his position speak out about the team's point guard problems - saying not just that the backup needs to be upgraded, but that Fish needs to be replaced - is both jarring and encouraging.
We all love Fish and appreciate what he's done for the organization. He's secured his place in Laker history many times over. But fond memories can't create dribble penetration or guard Chris Paul. There comes a time when you need to let go of the past and get on with the business of putting a real point guard on the floor. The Age of Fish is over. The only question is, who's willing to admit it?
Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.