You might have heard by now, but the Los Angeles Lakers are having a pretty rocky quest on their quest for their 17th franchise title. To keep you up to speed with your VISFs, the Phoenix will be giving you the skinny on the fortunes of the NBA’s (real or pretended) elite. Enjoy!
The Lakers had a plan, contingent on having a blue chipper and a bunch of other guys. The blue chipper was supposed to stop everything the other team threw within 20 feet of the rim, block shots into the 6th row, run up and down the floor like a speeding flying tank, and dunk or rebound every other ball that flew within 12 feet of the rim. Everyone else on the team—three aging perimeter players and one thirty something year old post player—were supposed to play perfunctory defense, shoot the ball in the general direction of the rim( two were supposed to be quite reliable), and otherwise toss it to the blue chipper in question for an easy two points. As one might notice, much of this plan hinged on the blue chipper being a blue chipper. The blue chipper in question however, Dwight Howard, has been playing this season coming off of back surgery. While he’s recovered to the point of walking, many athletes will tell you the gap between “out of pain” and “Rambo” is quite steep. In essence, Dwight Howard, the theoretical cornerstone of the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers, their only pair of young legs, is hobbling along on a still healing back. As such, he’s not chasing guards into the path of his hands and leaping over the basket. Since the defensive age or ineptitude of his teammates require Dwight pre-surgery (c.2009-2011), to keep up with a younger, faster, more competitive NBA on both ends of the floor, the Lakers are, quite reasonably, not performing very well given their nearly nonexistent margin for error. Dwight’s aches and pains of the body may be nothing however, compared to the aches and pains of his mind, incited by none other than…
…His (and The Lakers) famously obdurate coach Mike D’Antoni, whose 19-25 Lakers( as of 1/30/13) run at the second fastest offensive pace in the league with one its oldest rosters and a young center with a healing back. Mike D’Antoni’s offense worked quite well in Phoenix, where young Shawn Marion( generally regarded as one of the NBA’s best athletes), a pre microfracture surgery Amare Stoudemire, and a significantly younger Steve Nash ran their way to hundreds of points a game. This is not Phoenix. As of the halfway mark in the season, Mike D’Antoni’s attempts to handle a tank like a motorbike have yet to yield the results Laker Nation was expecting with their revamped roster. Many however, believe that he wouldn’t have the job in Staples Center were it not for the tinseltown tip of the iceberg of familial drama, from …
…The representative scion of the Buss Family that owns the Lakers, Jimmy Buss. (Im) famously known as Jim Bust, or Dolan 2.0 after the ignominious and famously incompetent owner of the Knicks, the younger son of the SoCal tycoon reputedly lacks the management chops and smarts of his sister Jeanie Buss, who ran Lakers basketball operations for much of the past decade, while dating highly successful team coach Phil Jackson. Jackson, who retired in 2011 and has a proven track record with a Lakers big Men( Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol in particular), had a fractious relationship with his future brother-in-law, who was reputedly insecure about both his perceived incompetence and the relationship his sister had with Jackson. Given the opportunity to get Jackson back( as far as he knew how), the younger Buss reneged on the general front offices’ interest in resigining the 11 time coaching champion in favor of the currently jeweless Mike D’Antoni, in a public, drawn out, and rather disorganized public negotiation that reminded Charles Pierce of NPR “of the way the Knicks did things”( and that’s not a complement).
Backs, heal, and coaches can change tactics, but Laker land must dig in for a long Californian Winter under the thumb of their real-world quasi- Billy Madison(reputed). Between them and a guaranteed playoff spot is a 32-7 game record from now through April. Stay tuned to see if this Star Wars: Episode I or whether one of basketballs empires will strike back!
Photo courtesy of bestplayerontheplanet.com.