"He's a fan right now."
"A fan??? lol #microphonetalk"
Two sentences. 10 words. 48 characters and one hashtag. That's all it took to create another stupid, pointless situation that puts the entire Lakers franchise back in the throes of the dumbest soap opera in sports. It's been running in Los Angeles since at least the late 90s and the latest cast of characters sure looks poised to continue the string for far longer.
The top quote of course, is Mike D'Antoni's. Complete with an eye roll, Coach Mike was venting a little frustration at being asked about the tweets of one Kobe Bryant. It was a stupid thing to do, because it exacerbated an awkward situation and turned it into a full on event. It was a pot shot at his best player, the guy he rode to death just to make the playoffs, at a guy who has far more credibility and sway and love in the city of Los Angeles, at the guy who can make his life a living hell if he wants to. Of course, he was frustrated because Kobe was already doing that last part.
Kobe's live-tweeting of yesterday's game started out as a novelty, and quickly progressed to something much cooler ... a real life basketball star giving real life accurate basketball analysis. This was like if Michael Jordan decided to be the color man for a game, except the game was carried by HBO, swearing was allowed, and MJ had to use shitty grammar because all of his sentences needed to be short. When Kobe tweeted about the need to stop the Spurs penetration, it was cogent analysis. When he tweeted that the Lakers needed to get the ball on the block, it was the type of thing you could imagine a coach mentioning to his team in film session. Kobe was stark, Kobe was clear, and Kobe was right.
But he also became increasingly critical of his own team, and by proxy, his own coach. By the 2nd half, the tweets were no longer about what the Lakers should be doing, but about what the Lakers were failing to do. "Matador defense on Tony Parker" ... "Pau get ur ass in the post" ... nothing Kobe said was inaccurate, but to criticize your teammates and your team's strategy to the whole world in real time isn't exactly a nice thing to do, especially when your microphone is as loud as Kobe's is. But what came next was much, much worse. After tweeting his completely justifiable frustration about not being able to help his teammates, Kobe decided to reach out to Phil Jackson for consolation.
Such a harmless, friendly, sympathetic statement. His teammates struggled and lost, and Kobe wanted to be there with them, even though he can't. And that harmless, friendly, sympathetic statement just had to be sent, in front of the whole world, to the one guy who makes this whole situation more explosive than napalm.
So D'Antoni responds by calling Kobe a fan. It was a stupid thing to do. Just like Dwight Howard passing around a stat sheet at the end of a regular season game. Just like the Lakers flirting with Phil Jackson before hiring D'Antoni in the first place, or bringing him back for Shaq's retirement . It was stupid because it added fuel to the fire, and it set up a street fight that D'Antoni simply can not win. He can not win any kind of fight against Kobe Bryant. Not in the court of public opinion. Not in the offices of the team he coaches. Not in the locker room. Unless Kobe just decides to let this whole thing slide, this was the beginning of the end of D'Antoni's undoing.
But, if what D'Antoni did was stupid, what Kobe did was selfish at best, and purposefully undermining at worst. Kobe's live-tweeting the game didn't help the Lakers in any way. It helped him build his brand, but it harmed his team and whatever fractious team chemistry might have been built in the all or nothing march on the playoffs has once again been thrown by the wayside. Chemistry, togetherness, and pride are all the Lakers have right now. They don't have more talent then their opponent. They don't have better health. Their only chance in this season is to play harder then their opponent because they want it more, because they are proud of their cause and care about each other. Stupidity like this ensures they won't have that to rely on either.
Bringing Phil Jackson into the mix makes me think Kobe knew exactly what he was doing, because Kobe isn't stupid. Kobe knows how many Lakers fans think the wrong coach is in the Lakers locker room right now. He was there for Shaq's retirement ceremony, heard the chants just as clearly as D'Antoni did. To reach out to Phil to commiserate about his misery at watching the Lakers lose after sending out multiple tweets that could be seen as critical of the coaching? That is some professional instigating right there.
So we've got a brand new season of "As The Lakers Turn" ready to go. Get ready for more drama. Get ready for more stupidity. For as long as I can remember, the Los Angeles Lakers have never been able to avoid it, and they don't look ready to start now. One thing is for sure, we'll all be watching. I don't know anybody who actually enjoys this shit, but nobody ever seems to walk away. Maybe that's the reason the Lakers never seem to escape their own stupidity. Maybe they've never tried.