How could I be a Lakers fan?
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I hate the Lakers. I always have. Since I can remember, the Lakers have stood for everything I loath about professional basketball. It is a team built around being one of the richest teams in the league. It is the Yankees of basketball.
Recent events surrounding the team&8217;s golden child, Kobe Bryant, haven&8217;t helped elevate my perception of the team either.
Kobe has become the diva of basketball. It&8217;s his way or the highway. He was responsible for the Lakers trading Shaq to the Heat &8212; a move I thought was a bad idea, and something I am sure the Laker organization has come to regret in the lackluster seasons following the move. To top it off, Kobe, the player who seems to think he is a one man show that can lead a team without another star player to steal his spotlight, has decided to jump ship on the team that has bowed to his wishes again and again.
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His reasoning for requesting a trade from the organization is that the team has failed to adequately bring in a supporting cast to help him lead his team to another championship. Well Kobe, what did you think would happen when you ran off arguably the best big man in professional basketball? Did you really think other players would jump at the chance to be the second guy behind an egocentric player like yourself only to receive a pink slip if they overshadowed your achievements?
The Lakers are also facing the possibility of Phil Jackson, the reigning grand pooh-bah of professional coaching, leaving the sinking ship as well. He has recently undergone double hip replacement and has said he will return if he feels he can &8220;coach up to my standards.&8221; To me that means if he feels he will have another season comparable to the last 42-40 showing by the Lakers he won&8217;t return, and if Kobe leaves you can bet an exeunt by Jackson is in the cards.
Jackson said in April: &8220;Personally, as an owner, does (Jerry Buss) really want to spend the kind of money he&8217;s spending on me to have a .500 team? We want to do better that that, by far. How do we go about readjusting to make sure that something that happened this year doesn&8217;t happen again in the future?&8221;
Well, Philly boy, part of what can stop the train wreck that the Lakers seem to be headed toward came in the form of a rejection of King Kobe&8217;s desire to play for the Chicago Bulls. Bulls&8217; general manager John Paxton said the team would likely be better served by not signing Bryant and limiting its available salary cap money, but by bringing in young players, either through free agents or through the draft, and building and developing on that talent. On the subject of bringing in Kobe Paxton said:
And of course the Lakers organization doesn&8217;t want to lose Kobe, which again has lead to an attempt to placate the spoiled child of the NBA. Rumor has it that the Lakers are at the bargaining table with Minnesota to bring in Kevin Garnett, who in my opinion is the best player in the league today, to give Kobe the support staff he needs.
The rumored deal will of course involve a lot of shuffling around the league. The first draft of the deal involved trades among four teams, the Lakers, Timberwolves, Celtics and Pacers, but fell through after Boston reportedly didn&8217;t like the result of the deal on their end.
If the Lakers can work through the red tape and score Garnett, the team is looking at picking up a 10-time all-star and 2004 league most valuable player who averaged 22.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.7 blocked shots last season and can play any position on the court. I almost guarantee the appearance of Garnett at camp will also bring out Jackson, who is chasing the title of most championships won by an NBA coach and is only one shy. They will also pick up this sports writer as a fan, because, while I hate the Lakers, I am a huge fan of Garnett and what he brings to the game.
To me it is a win-win situation. The Lakers pick up Garnett and he and Jackson both get the rings I want for them (of course I will still have to deal Kobe&8217;s crap, but we all must make concessions). If the Lakers fail to make the deal, hopefully, Kobe will have to stay in a situation he hates (and have another poor season), Garnett will either stay at the T-Wolves or move to greener pastures and Jackson will retire (still holding a place in my heart for his time with the Bulls).
Brandon Glover is the sports editor of The Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.