Unlike the other teams who are officially “tanking” the season, the Los Angeles Lakers simply are not good enough to win any games this season. Presently, the once proud Lakers are having one of their worst seasons in franchise history. They are just one game removed (18-34) from having the worst record in the Western Conference.
Injuries have plagued the Lakers this season. The Lakers’ core is too old. Resident superstar Kobe Bryant (35) has only played 6 games due to a knee injury. He announced he will come back this season but without any hope of making the playoffs, Bryant may only aggravate his injuries for nothing. Point guard Steve Nash (40), meanwhile, has played only 10 games due to a back injury. This means that the team has had to lean on the 33-year old Pau Gasol. Supporting Gasol is a bunch of unheralded players like Jodie Meeks and Ryan Kelly.
Calls have also been coming in from everywhere to fire coach Mike D’Antoni. It’s true that he has had to play with a rag-tag team filled with replacements but his propensity to field different line-ups every night has many fans shaking in disbelief. For instance, he hasn’t played center Chris Kaman all that much, benching him in several games. Kaman may be past his prime, but he can still score and rebound in bunches. D’Antoni also doesn’t have any concept of the word defense. This is why the Lakers are the 2nd worst defensive team in the league allowing 106 points per game.
But the Lakers’ embarrassing fall can be mainly attributed to the decisions of Jim Buss, who took over the reins since the passing of his father Dr. Jerry Buss. Jim has been trying to show everyone that he can manage the team better than his father but has so far, failed miserably.
He is being blamed for several bad decisions including the hiring of coach Mike Brown at the start of last season. Everyone was waiting with bated breath as the Lakers were looking for a coach to replace Brown. Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach in NBA history and who led the Lakers to 5 championships, was on top of the list. It came as a shock when Buss went with D’Antoni instead. To add to their woes, the team lost dominant center Dwight Howard in the offseason. Howard was supposed to be the franchise’s next star after Bryant but Buss simply did not have the vision to keep him there.
Last but definitely not the least is Bryant himself. A lot of upcoming stars simply don’t want to play with a future Hall-of-Famer who is perceived to be too selfish and overbearing. True, he has done it all but he no longer commands the same respect at the twilight of his career. He managed to get a 2-year extension amounting to $48.5 million. He will still be one of the highest paid players even if he is no longer a top 10 player.
The Lakers have some hope though. They are in the thick of the 2014 NBA draft sweepstakes and might land a young stud for the future. In the meantime, Los Angeles fans may just have to root for cross-town rival Los Angeles Clippers.