Everyone knows that fans protested against the Los Angeles Lakers outside of Staples Center last Friday, but how did things get to this point, and why were they so upset? The reasons aren’t that hard to find, actually, so let’s take a quick look back at how we got here.
On April 9, 2019, Magic Johnson stepped down as the president of basketball operations. At that moment, the Lakers had the opportunity to restart a front office that had been criticized all year. They could’ve interviewed someone like David Griffin, who has had plenty of experience in that role and has done well in it. Then, Griffin could take over and choose who he’d see fit as a general manager, as well as a head coach. Instead, the Lakers went a complete different route.
Jeanie decided to keep Rob Pelinka and, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, “if anything, his power will grow.” It certainly did, as the Lakers then started having Pelinka interview multiple candidates like Tyronn Lue, Monty Williams, Juwan Howard, and Jason Kidd. When the Lakers interviewed Kidd, it was reported that Kurt Rambis was involved in the interview.
That was the first time it was reported that Rambis was a part of the interview process, and from that moment, Lakers fans started to get the sense that Rambis was going to be a big part of the team, and that worried a lot of them. Rambis struggled in his past roles with the Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks, so outside of personal reasons, it didn’t make sense as to why the Lakers trusted him so much.
Finally the Lakers decided on a head coach, a coach whom most Lakers fans believed was the best option: Tyronn Lue. It was even reported that Lue wanted to bring on Frank Vogel as his lead assistant. Things were starting to somewhat look up...but that didn’t last long.
Lue ended up backing out of the deal. Why? Because he felt the Lakers disrespected him with a three-year offer when most coaches get a five-year deal. Not just that, the Lakers wanted him to take on Jason Kidd, who doesn’t have the best reputation among other coaches.
While Lue isn’t the perfect coach or some savior, the fact that the Lakers couldn’t even get such a simple deal done was the last straw for many Lakers fans, and sparked the protest that went viral on social media:
Redditor u/C-P-R posted on Lakers Reddit a post titled “Lakers Protest Friday Outside Staples” which gained traction pretty fast among Lakers fans in the Reddit community. This then spread to many media outlets, which allowed more Lakers fans to know about this protest.
During the protest, though, some younger Lakers fans got a lot of the attention, and understandably so. They were loud, energetic, and held up some entertaining signs.
The problem, as you’ll see from my video, some of them may not have even been Lakers fans, and because they got most of the media attention, the other fans who were there didn’t get as much. I did my best to let people hear their reasons as to why they were protesting, and what change they want to see. A lot of what they say is aligned with how many Lakers fans feel, which is why the protest started in the first place.
It’s become incredibly frustrating to see an organization that was once run better than any other team have two coaches pass up on them, all without anyone in the front office speaking out even once in public since Magic Johnson quit.
One thing I hope the front office realizes from the protest is that if loyalty is truly what’s most important to them, then maybe they should think about the Lakers fans that have been with them since the beginning, and at least let them know of what the general direction of team is going in.
Until the Lakers do that, the void their silence creates is only going to continue to get filled with more genuine frustration from fans of the team. That’s not “fake news” or overly loud media criticism. That’s their own fans, just wanting to hear some semblance of a plan, or that things aren’t as hopeless as they seem. They aren’t all high schoolers, and some of them have genuine concerns, should the front office care to listen.