I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Los Angeles Lakers should hit the panic switch.
There, I said it.
Too often have the Lakers and Laker fans alike been naïve in thinking everything would turn out up to scratch. Ever since Kobe Bryant has been at the helm, even through the Kwame Brown, Smush Parker years, it felt the adversity-faced Lakers always had an off chance at success, for the simple fact they are THE LAKERS.
However, this season is looking more like the movie The Iron Lady; no matter how well Meryl Streep performs, with a sub-par supporting cast and mediocre script, it won’t get much Oscar consideration. For Kobe, stuck with a second-rate coach Mike Brown script and unproven supporting cast, he has a chance at being MVP, but that’s it. And in Lakerland, anything short of a championship, even Kobe and the fountain of youth besting rival Lebron James and young-bucks Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant for MVP, won’t suffice.
Just take this summer for example. LA, general manager Mitch Kupchak and heir to the ownership Jim Buss were expected to make good on promises to renovate the team taking an embarrassing exit in the playoffs last season into an immediate title contender make-over this year. Instead, the first chink to Kupchak’s armor saw Los Angeles only absorbing the aging and less exciting Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts and Jason Kapono.
A more sobering fact for the team with the second best preseason Vegas title odds, any silver lining has quickly turned to grey as tonight’s loss in Milwaukee to the Bucks marks a 1-7 start away from Staples and their franchise worst record 13th game in a row without hitting the century mark. To add insult to injury, some sports pundits don’t even acknowledge the Lakers as the best team in their own building.
Now normally faced with a downward spiral of this scale, the ignorant or the really optimistic (whatever phraseology is preferred) of Laker Nation still wouldn’t be alarmed, as purple and gold hopefuls assume the void could be filled by the magic of the general manager position as been true in the past (see: the Pau steal or go further back to the Shaq rip-off).
Not so fast.
As guilty as I have been even this season with the potential of the Lakers, I must concur with Stephen A. Smith in acknowledging the disappearance of GM magic bailouts and concede defeat this season…
The truth of the matter is this 2012 Laker team looks all too familiar as memories of the lost Laker years of 2005-2007 resonate. The difference is the likelihood of Kobe Bryant, 33, though still averaging an unrealistic 30.2 points on a demanding 38.2 minutes per game, putting up 81 or shouldering enough of the offensive load to be relevant is as probable as Phil Jackson going with the rumors and coaching in New York. Not very likely at all.
The gullibility of Laker fans trying to avoid the inevitable is commendable in any fashion. The steadfast confidence in a transition year helps the organization but at some point reality has to set in and the Laker fans have to address the issues.
Due to an arid free agency and trade pool, this season won’t be the save all for the Purple and Gold. Even amidst rumors of acquiring dormant free-agent Gilbet Arenas today to arm the futile back court plaguing the Lakers offense seems like settling. But it is what the Los Angeles Lakers have become that’s more disquieting: a team historically assured they could have whatever they wanted (landing a Derron Williams, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard) to now settling for whatever they can scrounge (picking up a Gilbert Arenas, Jason Kapono or Troy Murphy).
As the most storied franchise in Los Angeles sports history plunges unequipped into unchartered territory, the Black Mamba and a blockbuster deal waiting in the wings somewhere will give fans the same sardonically sanguine attitude they’ve had all along. Whether the offense continues to deteriorate, chemistry wanes, Kobe ages or wherever the woes come from, to fans it always appears as though the Lakers are at least one trade away from getting back on track to a title.
Who knows, the panic switch may be preemptive considering how often and hasty the Lakers fortunes have reversed in the past.
Only time and, indubitably, a point guard in New Jersey and/or a big man in Orlando will tell…