If one was to try to define the Los Angeles Lakers in one word or phrase right now, it’d be hard not to start with disorganization. Much of the finger pointing from the last couple months has to do with the mistakes made over the course of last season, but just as much seems to be going on over who has how much power.
No two people seem to epitomize that dynamic more than Rob Pelinka and Linda Rambis, who have both vaulted their way up the cloudy ranks of the organization into positions of power that vastly outrank their respective resumés.
Baxter Holmes of ESPN has been making the rounds following his inflammatory exposé on the Lakers and, during his appearance on “The Lowe Post” with Zach Lowe (also of ESPN), he tried to explain the Pelinka-Rambis dynamic:
“That is one I went down pretty far. And I went back to when Rob was introduced, he said this really long, flowery thing about Linda Rambis, and I remember being there that day and looking at my transcript.
“I asked quite a bit of people ‘Why is Linda so loyal to Rob? Why is Rob so loyal to Linda?’ and people in the organization and around the organization, and who are deeply familiar with the Lakers are like ‘I’m not sure. I really don’t know, but it’s weird. And because of it, we think Rob is untouchable because of how much power Linda wields and how close she is to Jeanie.’
“I would love an answer to that. I know people in the organization would love an answer to it. But there’s some reason why Linda is deeply, deeply loyal to Rob, and given who she is and the power she has, people there believe it gives him, I don’t want to say invincibility, but something in that realm.”
So basically, this is Linda Rambis and Rob Pelinka sitting down across from each other in front office meetings:
We likely will never get anything close to full disclosure on how it is the Lakers front office works, but right now, very little is coming out that might inspire any kind of confidence.
Rambis has as much power as she does almost solely because of her closeness with Jeanie Buss amidst the departure of other members of the Lakers brain trust. Pelinka has his gig currently because of his proximity to Kobe Bryant from his years as his agent, and the comparative loyalty he showed over the course of Magic Johnson’s tenure by, oh, you know, showing up for work.
Basically, all Lakers fans have to hope for is that either of these two (and preferably both) live up to the amounts of trust they have “earned” by way of their loyalty to Buss. Quite frankly, it’s pretty hard to find other such undeserving relationships in the multi-billion-dollar industry that professional sports has become. And in those instances where something like this takes place, it almost never results in optimal operations throughout any such organization.
It’s been said plenty of times but it bears repeating given how odd this situation is: If it doesn’t work out, there will be no one else to blame but the person who prioritized her relationships with these people above optimal process for the organization she is tasked with running. We’ll see if Jeanie Buss is willing to hold herself accountable for that should this entire house of cards fall around her.