Back at the time of the trade deadline, Jeanie Buss hopped on a stage and claimed the media was out to get the Los Angeles Lakers with fake news stories about trade packages that were reportedly offered for Anthony Davis.
Those reports have since been all but officially confirmed by the package that will now make Davis a Laker, making her quotes that were already in poor judgment at the time ring even more problematic.
Buss was asked about the turmoil that has defined the Lakers front office this offseason at the NBA Award Show and went back to that well (via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times):
“I’ve always had confidence in Rob, whatever the speculation is out there,” Buss said. “We don’t need outside media to validate the things that we do. I’m very happy and I think we’re on the right path.”
The problem with this defiance against a media that has asked some pretty fair questions, like, “what the hell happened with the coaching search,” is it hasn’t just been the media who has criticized the Lakers. Magic Johnson was arguably more vocal than any other single critic of the way the Lakers operate.
Buss went on to praise Rob Pelinka for the job he’s done as general manager, but used an unfortunate example:
“I have 100% confidence in him in running his basketball operations,” Buss said. “He’s brought us a great new head coach in Frank Vogel, whose teams have had a lot of success in the playoffs and who have played consistently ranking high in defense, which means not only does he emphasize defense but the players buy into his defensive schemes.”
The irony here, of course, is that Frank Vogel was very obviously not the Lakers’ first choice (and might not have even been second). Pelinka and the Lakers infamously bungled negotiations with Tyronn Lue to the point where Lue walked away from what would have been his dream job.
I wonder if Buss felt like all of that was just fake news, too.
Finally, Buss went as far into detail as she could legally about why fans should be excited about the Lakers:
“I can’t say names,” Buss said. “… I think that there’s a lot of changes that have happened with the Lakers but all with the goal of getting back into the playoffs.”
As Davis is not yet officially a Laker, Buss could not mention him by name or else risk another call from the league office about the NBA’s tampering rules.
All these quotes ring a little hollow, however, after months of silence while the Lakers tried to recover from Johnson’s abrupt resignation, an awkward period where no one really knew who was running the organization, the aforementioned failed negotiations with Lue, and then finally the largest trade effort in franchise history since the Lakers traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Her absence has been so noticeable, and the Lakers so quiet, during one of the more embarrassing stretches in franchise history that Vogel’s press conference turned into a complete farce where the media (very rightfully) pelted them with questions about what the hell was going on.
Buss might not like the stories her franchise is writing for themselves and feel like things are more positive than they’re being portrayed, but continuing this trend of blaming the media for negative coverage was already tired before these latest shots. It isn’t the media’s fault that she has now twice opted not to even hold a search for a proper candidate to run the Lakers basketball operations team. There is no deep-seated hatred (especially locally) of the organization.
No, she made these decisions. She gets the criticism when those decisions lead to suboptimal situations, just like she’ll get praised if things work out. The Lakers have quite possibly more support worldwide than just about any American professional team. Yes, there are teams throughout the NBA rooting against the Lakers to succeed, but that’s because that’s how competition works. The idea that anyone would make up stories to besmirch the team is astonishingly ridiculous.
Why would we make up anything when the Lakers are better at supplying us with ideas for negativity than anyone else could be? Maybe now that the Davis deal is done and Johnson is gone, things will get better. But to act like it’s been all roses getting here isn’t quite telling the whole story.