It Must Be Magic is the euphoric feeling I got the first time I listened to the Teena Marie album of the same title. I hope anyone who reads my blog will share with me in that feeling.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
The Lake Show!
This past Monday was National Martin Luther King Day. In my entire working life as an adult, I have NEVER had this day off. For some reason, I decided to take a floating holiday day off this year and celebrate at home. It was a cool day. I stayed home, rested a bit, watched the Inauguration with my family, cooked and then settled into the Bulls-Lakers game. The Bulls were coming off a weekend of road games that both went to OT, and they had split those games. However, news that Luol Deng would be out due to a hamstring injury, made me believe the Lakers would get their "swag" back against the Bulls on Monday night.
I couldn't have been more wrong. Not only did the Bulls win, they won convincingly, beating the Lakers 95-83. They kept control most of the game, although the Lakers had a few spurts where Kobe got hot and Earl Clark had a solid game for them once again. That was it. To be honest, I totally forgot that Ron Artest, n/k/a Metta World Peace even played for them. He's non-existent on this team now. Steve Nash got peed on most of the night, especially in the 4th quarter by Kirk Hinrich, of all people. Dwight Howard looked lost on the court, turning the ball over too many times to count.
If I have ever seen a team that is out of sync, not very well put together and clearly wasting time out on the court, it is the Lakers. I watched as Kobe Bryant dapped Scottie Pippen, then walked towards the tunnel to the lockerrooms, as he shook his head in utter disgust. Then the camera panned to Dwight Howard, who was center court, chopping it up and laughing with Carlos Boozer. Two stars couldn't be more different.
While the basketball world are all collectively analyzing the Lakers and trying to understand how and why this is happening. I called it before the season even started. I wish I had blogged about it then. For those who don't know, there are THREE main reasons the Lake Show has ended in disastrous fashion.
Two weeks ago on Scandal (my favorite show right now), President Grant lied in a hospital bed, still asleep/vegetable-like, etc, from several gun shots, one of which was to the head. His wife decided to submit a letter to Congress reinstating him, since the VP had taken charge in his absence. Questions swirled as to whether he was awake, and how he was doing. When she got criticized by the team for doing this, she said, "I am not some man making a decision out of rage. I'm a woman, I thought this through."
Not to get philosophical, but Jerry Buss made an "emotional decision" over the summer that has directly placed the Lakers in the shit bag they are currently residing in. Now, we don't know the backstory. What we do know is that his daughter is dating former Laker coach - Phil Jackson. The Guru. The Zen Master who won five titles with the Lakers with two different teams. Phil Jackson is only about 10 or 11 years younger than Buss, who I believe is in his late 70's. Buss' daughter is about 51, though she looks about 38 or 39. For reason unknown, when Phil Jackson's contract came to an end, Buss' not only showed no interest in renewing it with Phil, he got rid of any and everything associated with him. Phil accumulated a nice roster of assistant coaches, led by one-time Laker, Brian Shaw. When Phil left at the end of the season. He had barely stiff walked his way out of the Staples Center, before Buss gave his entire coaching staff the boot. That decision alone, was detrimental. Then Buss took it a step further and hired coaches who not only could not fill those now abandoned shoes, but simply were an awful fit for the team.
Folks, this was NOT a business decision. I actually don't fault Buss for not re-hiring Phil. He announced he was done coaching before the end of last season. His body was done. He has his third hip-replacement surgery over the summer, and he blatanly told Waddle and Silvy on Chicago's ESPN radio, that he physically could not handle the rigors of coaching in the league anymore. But for Buss to not hire Brian Shaw, and keep that incredible coaching staff they had was just DUMB. Consequently, Shaw is in Indiana, who are #1 in defense in the East. I'll move on, but Buss' bad decisions will come up in the other two points as well.
I can hear Paul Mooney saying, that people who have "the complexion for the protection" tend to come out on top simply because of their skin color. Well that must be the case for D'Antoni because I have NEVER been impressed with him. He spent the majority of his career in Phoenix coaching a Nash-led Suns team that could never get a title because of Kobe Bryant-Phil Jackson. The latter player-coach was far superior to D'Antoni and Nash. MDA as he is often called, is known for being an offensive specialist. That has mostly worked for him in the offensive centered Western Conference, but even his style had holes in it, as Nash won MVP two years in a row as he exited the playoffs watching Kobe Bryant glide into the Finals for chance after chance at the title. The final time was when the Lakers won the title against the Celtics in 2010. The went a grueling 6-game series in the Western Conference Finals against Phoenix. This had been Phoenix's best season, and many critics had them winning it all. There was just one problem, MDA was the coach. As usual, Kobe and Jackson came out on top. I will never forget Craig Sager being in the Suns lockerroom after the loss, and speaking to Grant Hill. Nash could barely talk. He couldn't even fight the tears any longer. It was awful. You knew that was his only chance to get a ring and it had ended terribly against the same team, same coach, same star - AGAIN.
That is why Nash joining the Lakers was a shock. Then after the Mike Brown experiment faltered, Buss thinking bringing Nash and D'Antoni back together is still puzzling to me. Surely in La La land, they have to be looked at as losers. Why would they suddenly become winners because they were in a different area code? Because of Kobe Bryant? As predicted, what is the Lakers biggest problem this season? While there are many, their biggest weakness is their complete lack of defense. With a team that includes both Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace, that is unacceptable. Fact is, D'Antoni is not the type of coach you put in a large market where the team is expected to go to post-season and win. He would fit in on the Timberwolves, the Bucks or even Seattle, once the Kings deal is done. Just like things didn't work out in New York, L.A. hasn't been kinder to MDA. It is just simply NOT a good fit.
It is so easy to look at the franchise player when a team is losing and blame them. I'm sure the Kobe haters could come up with a sleugth of reasons the Lakers troubles are his fault. Kobe can be difficult to play with. He's over-competitive. He's maniacal about practice and condiioning. He shoots the ball too much at times. Yes, we all know these things about the Black Mamba. But one thing remains true about Kobe - he desperately wants to win. If it means being at a visiting gym the second it opens, then Kobe is there. He often works out after games. He even called out Dwight during a "clear the air meeting" the team had a few days ago. Of course Dwight evaded and the Lakers lost again last night to Memphis.
Let's go back to last season, when he was still in Orlando. How much of a circus was that? Mysterious injuries! Selling out the coach, then pretending he didn't! Laughing and joking with teammates during big home losses. Ladies and gentlemen, Dwight keeps showing us who he is, we just don't want to believe him! No way a carefree, go any which way the wind blows type of player like Dwight can successfully co-exist with Kobe Bryant. Not to mention, he is playing like crap! Poor rebounding. Offensively stale! Often Dwight look like he's bored or ready to hit the club. The Lakers gambled away the troubled Andrew Bynum for this guy. He has consistently diasppointed.
Trade Dwight Howard NOW! Otherwise, he will jump ship at the end of the season and they will get zilch for him. Get another point guard as well. Nash is done. He needs to retire at the end of the season or sooner. They could pick up a point like J.J. Redick from Orlando for the mid-level and get better production and poionts. They need to prepare themselves to gut the team at the end of the season anyway. Bye Metta. Bye Pau. Bye D'Antoni. This season is pretty much a wash, but it can be saved from being a total disaster with a few trades before the February deadline. Either way, the Shit Show that used to be Lake Show needs a major face lift.