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Earlier this week, we asked you, the Lakers fans of this community, if you thought the organization could get back to contention with this current ownership group, led by team governor Jeanie Buss.
And despite the team winning a championship less than two years ago, things have gone poorly enough since then that the answer from fans was an overwhelming — and somewhat understandable — “no,” according to our latest SB Nation Reacts poll.
Now, is that a fair reaction to how poorly the last two seasons have gone since the Lakers captured the 2020 title, and were potentially a few ill-timed injuries away from a shot to repeat last season? Some will surely say no.
After all, to be as fair as possible, the same brain trust of Buss, Rob Pelinka, Linda Rambis and her husband Kurt that is so under fire now wasn’t getting complained about when they built a contender, again, less than two calendar years ago. Some of this growing discontent is playing the results, and would go away if the team was winning, no matter what their process looked like and who was in charge. We have to acknowledge that.
That said, this group has no one to blame but themselves for fans losing faith. They systematically dismantled a champion in two seasons to the point that they missed the play-in game this year. They have also developed a reputation for trying to save money during a title window — an unforgivable sin for most supporters of what should be a big-market, financial juggernaut — most infamously by applying for a paycheck protection loan from the government that was meant for small businesses during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also by cheaping out on contract offers to coaches, players and support staff alike over the last several years.
There is also the reality that, whatever Jeanie or anyone else thinks of their resumes, she has repeatedly empowered and entrusted people who are far from being considered the most qualified for their roles. All while those same people in power display a clear pattern of anonymously pointing fingers at everyone but themselves when things don’t go well.
There is also the reality that, for as much as Jim Buss was an easy — and deserved — scapegoat locally for years, the team’s results during the entire era since Jeanie took over the team from her father as primary owner, outside of the title season, have not been great.
From when Dr. Buss bought the Lakers in ’79 til he started ceding power in ~’11, the Lakers missed the playoffs twice.— Anthony F. Irwin (@AnthonyIrwinLA) May 2, 2022
From 2011 to now, they’ve missed the playoffs seven times.
Now, if your “if,” “but” or “exception” in question is “a literal NBA title,” that’s a pretty big caveat. So clearly the Lakers can win a title with Jeanie in charge of the team. That is not even a question. And to this organization’s credit, that’s also a lot more than many of their competitors can say, another thing that has to be noted in the interest of fairness. They are, after all, one of just seven teams to win a title in the 11 years since she took over.
But is the process they’ve demonstrated so far, especially in recent years, going to lead to positive results more often than not? So far, the answer is a resounding “no.” That’s just been the reality. We’ll see if the Lakers can change that — and how their fans view the group in charge as a result — over the years to come, but one thing is clear: People in this community are not happy, and want to see the team do better. I have zero doubt in my mind that Jeanie does too. There is no one credible who doubts how much she cares about this team, its legacy and this city.
But what is she going to do to make sure that the Lakers return to their past standard of greatness? We’ll just have to wait and see about that.
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