Yup, this is the Lakers being the Lakers
This is the Lakers being the Lakers, too. This is how their dynasties end — in chaos, tumult and controversy.
Not long after losing to Chicago in the 1991 NBA Finals, Magic Johnson rocked the world, shared that he was HIV positive and retired.
In the aftermath of a surprising 2004 Finals loss to Detroit, Kobe Bryant forced Shaquille O’Neal out of town and Phil Jackson into retirement.
And now this, the Lakers on the wrong side of an embarrassing 4-0 sweep in the conference semifinals to the Mavericks and rumors that the “trust issues” alluded to by Andrew Bynum refer to a rift between Kobe and Pau caused by conversations between Vanessa and Silvia.
Yeah, the Lakers are sports’ longest-running reality TV show. Khloé and Lamar Kardashian fit in perfectly. So does Ron Artest.
Given the organization’s history, I’m baffled more people failed to see the predictable implosion. Dismissing the Lakers’ season-long struggle as “the Lakers being the Lakers,” was rather shortsighted and gutless.
You had to ignore history and be in denial about the impact of LeBron’s “The Decision.”
It’s been evident since Christmas the Lakers chose the absolute wrong year to stand pat with their roster. Miami’s Big Three changed the landscape and the energy of the entire league.
The Bulls acquired Carlos Boozer. The Thunder and the Celtics collaborated on a huge midseason trade. And maybe, just maybe, the Mavericks made the smartest move, acquiring 7-foot defender/rebounder/floor-runner/pick-n-roll-dunker Tyson Chandler.
Los Angeles’ nucleus — Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Lamar, Fisher and Artest — was lethargic and distracted all season.
• Vanessa Bryant may have had nothing to do with it, but Pau Gasol got dumped by his fiancée, Silvia Lopez Castro.
• Derek Fisher is the president of the NBA Players Association in a year of labor unrest.
• Khloé and Lamar Kardashian have a perfume and a reality TV show to promote.
• Ron Artest is Ron Artest. Among other things, he raffled away his championship ring.
• Andrew Bynum is still the immature kid who delayed knee surgery so he could attend the World Cup.
Kobe and Phil had their hands full trying to get this squad to focus on basketball, let alone withstand the assault LeBron, D-Wade, Dirk, Durant, Rose, K.G., Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were planning.
Obviously, Kobe and Phil failed miserably. Everyone can see it now.
Magic Johnson spent the past two days on ESPN ranting about blowing up the Lakers roster and trading for Dwight Howard. In a tiny bit of hypocrisy, The Greatest Laker (Magic retains his title) blasted Bynum for giving J.J. Barea the kind of cheap-shot elbow Magic gave Isiah Thomas in the 1988 Finals.
Again, this is the Lakers being the Lakers, too.
Magic Johnson is my all-time favorite athlete. I loved Magic’s Lakers. I liked the Shaq-Kobe era. I’ve respected the Kobe-Phil years.
The Lakers don’t lose with a lot of dignity. Never have. Magic fired coach Paul Westhead shortly after going 19 of 49 from the field during a 1981 first-round playoff loss to the Houston Rockets.
Anyone shocked to see Mr. Kardashian deck Dirk Nowitzki and Bynum clip Barea in the fourth quarter Sunday just hasn’t watched much Lakers hoops.
The Lakers have always been spoiled punks. It’s LA. They’re the only athletes who have ever really mattered in this town. You get fed a steady diet of Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington and the rest of the Hollywood elite fawning over you from courtside seats and you’d lose some perspective, too.
The Lakers need to be blown up every three years. Kobe and Phil had a great run — three NBA Finals and two championships. You can’t do four years in Los Angeles without an explosion.
If Lakers owner Jerry Buss is smart, he’d view the entire roster as trade bait, including Kobe.
I’d make a move for Dwight Howard and Chris Paul and try to keep Gasol.
If Michael Jordan, Brett Favre and Joe Montana can finish their careers in foreign uniforms, so can Kobe Bryant.
Midway through Sunday’s game on ABC, the Clippers aired a season-ticket commercial. I’m guessing the advertisement was only shown in the Los Angeles area. The Clippers smell an opportunity. The Lakers are in decline. The Clippers have The Poster Child, Blake Griffin, and some young talent around him.
The League is changing rapidly. The Lakers should embrace it and go with the flow.