Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Magic was right.......

"I love Dr. (Jerry) Buss. I don't believe in Jim Buss. He's made two critical mistakes already. To me, they made two critical mistakes.” (Nov 15, 2012)

This quote from roughly 2 months ago is from none other than the greatest Los Angeles Laker of all time, Magic Johnson. Who better to listen to in regards to the Lakers? What 2 mistakes was he referring to? “"First, hiring Mike Brown -- he wasn't the right coach. He's a great coach but not the right coach for the Lakers. And I don't feel Mike D'Antoni is the right coach for the Lakers. Especially when you have Phil Jackson sitting out there, who wanted to be the Laker coach. Jim Buss decided he didn't want Phil Jackson, he wanted Mike D'Antoni. And that's OK, but why didn't you just say that? But the fans were cheering for Phil Jackson two nights in a row." How is this relevant in Jan. 2013? This begs many questions; let’s explore:

*Why does Magic believe in Jerry Buss and not Jim Buss?

DOCTOR Jerry Buss is the hall of fame majority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. He purchased the team in 1979 and in primarily responsible for the Lakers being one of the most successful sports franchises since. Under his ownership the Lakers have won 11 NBA championships and have acquired such players as Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Shaq, Kobe on his watch and partly his decision making. Jerry Buss is 78 years old now, and over time has began to step away from the percentage of Lakers’ decision making. The primary decision making is now shared with his son, Jim (along with GM Mitch Kupchak). The changing of power began has been gradual over time and has been in full swing for a few years now. Since Jim has moved to the forefront, the Lakers have completely bombed on 2 head coaching hires (Mike Brown, Mike D’Antoni), and the Lakers have been on a downhill slope on the court, and this year shit has hit the fan completely. What is there to trust about Jim thus far? Absolutely nothing. He is the common denominator in the Lakers’ fall.

*Why did Magic feel D’Antoni wasn’t the right coach for the Lakers?

The prime reason is simple, Mike D’Antoni’s style of coaching could not be a worse fit for the Lakers. The Lakers’ strengths are that they have 2 all star caliber post block 7 footers, a great half court scorer in Kobe Bryant, and the best pick and roll PG in the NBA statistically last year Steve Nash. The utilization of those strengths is the weakness of D’Antoni’s offense. The weaknesses of the Lakers are speed, outside shooting and full court offense/defense, those are the strengths of D’Antoni’s offense. He has no use for a skilled 7 footer in his attack (Pau Gasol), rendering their single advantage over every team in the lg (2 bigs you can't match up with) useless. Kobe Bryant is rumored to have “asked D’Antoni to involve Pau more”, the fact that this is just a question or suggestion by your best player baffles me. D’Antoni has always used a stretch 4 (PF), D’Antoni really would like to have a small forward skill set at power forward if he could.  It’s like putting high octane fuel in an army tank and hoping it goes faster and becomes a race car, it will not work. His best season ever in Phoenix, 2004, that roster did not feature a player OVER 7 feet. The key contributors: Amare Stoudamire, Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson, Steve Nash (8 years younger), Quentin Richardson, Leandro Barbosa…….the characteristics of that roster are the exact opposite of what the Lakers have right now. Doesn’t help that D’Antoni has never been to the NBA finals, let alone have a ring on a win now based roster (a roster built to win NOW, future picks are spent along with the big bucks for superstars). His style of coaching has always been deemed as exciting to watch, but not a blueprint to win with. Not only was he hired over Phil, but also Jerry Sloan/Nate McMillan etc. A real head scratcher.

*Why did Magic/the fans feel Phil Jackson would be a better fit for the Lakers?

We can start with the fact that this is once again a win now based roster, and Phil Jackson has 11 NBA rings, 5 of them with the Lakers. He has a close relationship with the majority of the team, which he coached, and could corral all of the big name egos the team has brought in to mesh (Howard, Nash). He has a style of play 100 % CONDUCIVE to what the Lakers’ strengths are: size and half court scoring ability. He has won championships with “slow” older rosters before. He could essentially get more out of this roster and put this roster in better positions to succeed, physically and mentally. The hiring of him would send a message to the team/league: we mean business, we are back, we fully expect to win at all costs NOW.

*Why wasn’t Phil Jackson chosen if it’s such a no brainer that he was the better choice?

Nobody knows for sure, Phil was “stunned” he was not hired for the job. Reports are that: Phil Jackson wanted an ownership stake and an outrageous salary as well as basketball decision making duties, the Lakers would struggle to grasp the triangle offense, etc. The truth is, I’d bet dollars to donuts the same petty issues Phil had with the Lakers’ decision makers got in the way of what really matters: WINNING. When Phil Jackson left the Lakers, Jim Buss wanted to rid the Lakers of everything associated with Phil, mainly his offense. It’s odd that you would want to get rid of a system and an influence that won you 5 championships. So you take the 2nd best option out of convenience, a trend here. 

MY TAKE: The Jackson/Buss situation is truly a mess, Phil is engaged to Jerry’s daughter/Jim’s sister (Jeanie) to complicate things further. When Phil was criticized in the past by Jim, Jeanie would stand up for her man, UNCLE PHIL. That has to cause a rift in the family, I sense insecurity from Jim, mainly because Phil was so powerful within his organization and within his own family. Was there pettiness on Phil’s end of getting the deal done? Maybe. The bottom line is the hiring of D’Antoni over Jackson may have ended the Lakers’ run of consistent greatness for quite some time. The day of D’Antoni’s hiring was the day the Lakers set a precedent for choosing convenience over winning, a precedent that was never set before with the win at all cost JERRY Buss led Lakers. The common denominator is Jim.

Jim Buss’ forefront resume:
-Hiring Mike Brown (without consulting with Kobe Bryant about it) – this is his 1st shallow minded hire, meaning he hired a coach bc of 1 thing the coach could bring to the situation (Defense), ignoring the totality of what the coach can bring and what the team needs, also choosing a coach with little leverage or say of what goes on in the organization, so he can continue to flex his muscles. Brown’s passive personality also led to his players walking all over him.

-Firing Mike Brown a year later  - 5 games into the season, 4 of those games without his starting PG, you fire the man you felt was the man for the job. He was what you wanted, a defense minded guy who didn’t ruffle feathers and let you make all the decisions, right?

-The trades/transactions getting rid of Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown, the loss of future draft picks

-The trading of Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum – both have their +’s and –‘s, big risk here is you knew Bynum would stay in LA worst case, Howard is a toss up

-The trading for Steve Nash – trading future picks for an already aging roster, going all in

-The hiring of Mike D’Antoni –  See Mike Brown hire above, same blueprint/basis, this time the reason being “for the ease of his offense to be picked up quickly”, completely ignoring the many reasons why it would not be a good fit 

My summary of the Lakers’ recent moves since Phil Jackson/Jim Buss being in the forefront: moves (above) have been made based on convenience and for today, not the best interests of the team moving forward. The CONVENIENCE of: D’Antoni’s offense over Phil’s, hiring passive coaches, making moves for this year neglecting the future, etc.

The Lakers are in a world of trouble, my friends, and I think with the backdrop given above you can see why. With the changing of ownership decision making (Jim Buss), we may be seeing the beginnings of a changing of the guard in the NBA. Everything above is relevant today in terms of the Lakers’ state; this was the set up for it all. They are now stuck with D’Antoni for the foreseeable future, who is unwilling to adapt to a style conducive to his team. Their strengths are being under used. They are aging by the day, injuries are mounting. Their centerpiece for the future (Howard) is no guarantee to re-sign with the team after this season. They have bartered their future for their present (draft picks/youth). The present is grim, the future is frightening. They have also dug themselves a huge hole record wise to even make the playoffs; if they do the seeding will bury them vs. a probable OKC/LAC matchup 1st round. We, like Magic did in November, should have seen this coming.

No comments:

Post a Comment