Hollywood. A place where drama and gossip precede it’s name. We all know that life in LA moves at a fast pace, and the best of the best crumble and fall from grace through the pressure equated. But does that scenario extend beyond the world of film, television and music? Is it possible for a World Champion sports franchise to succumb to the ever present threat of sliding into the world of the estranged?
The last week and especially the last two days have been a drama fueled roller coaster ride for the LA Lakers. Firstly, the rumors of locker room intensity involving Metta World Peace and coach Mike Brown surfaced. While quickly dismissed by both parties, we saw a decline in MWP’s court time and a lapse in his efficiency in both games against Phoenix. World Peace continued to tweet about his displeasure with his court time uploading cryptic tweets that were evidently an outlet of his frustration. “Kobe called me the best wing defender of all time” he tweeted. “Larry Bird once called me a top 10 player in the NBA and Michael Jordan told me he wished he could have played against me”. Now I don’t know about you, but to me it seems as though Ron is trying to prove a point here. Could it be that he believes his coach does not have faith in his ability?
During this time, Coach Brown reassured the media that the former Ron Artest was more than comfortable with his role within the team and believed he could still provide defensive flare off the bench late in games. We’re yet to see consistency from him in that regard. There have been glimpses however, and while these whisperings have seemingly disappeared for now, let’s hope Metta World Peace can continue to reclaim his “Top Ten Player In The NBA” status.
But that has not been the end of the drama this week. Trade rumors have disconcerted members of the Lakers squad and Perhaps the most concerning element is that it involves Kobe Bryant. Not his direct involvement in a trade proposal, but his words directed at members of Lakers management which were intended to ensure his teammate and friend Pau Gasol knew his leader was behind him during a time in which he did not know if he would be staying in LA. For weeks, we have heard rumors surrounding a Pau Gasol trade and evidently, Bryant has had enough.
“wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him, we can’t have one of our pillars not knowing if he’s going to be here” Bryant stated. “It’s just tough for a player to give his all when you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow.” Bryant, clearly frustrated with upper managements inability to make a call on whether or not to trade Gasol, has since said that as a leader of the playing group, his role is to not only play well, but support his teammates in every aspect also.
Yesterday, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak stated that he did not believe trading Gasol at this stage would be healthy for the franchise. “As a former player, I understand how the days leading up to the trade deadline can be nerve-wracking for an NBA player. Nonetheless, as General Manager of the Lakers, I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come. To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans.”
In news this morning, Kobe Bryant has hinted that the comment was not directed at Kupchak, but instead the much scrutinized (and rightly so) Lakers owner Jim Buss. Buss has a history of making uninformed decisions surrounding his team and as reported by Gary Lee of LakersNation.com this morning, he has contributed to some of the more unfortunate circumstances involving the Lakers since the lockout.
- “Show Phil Jackson the door.
- Tease Brian Shaw with the head coaching position.
- Let go of Mitch Kupchak’s staff, including the aforementioned, Assistant GM Ronnie Lester.
- Hire Mike Brown without consulting team leader and superstar, Kobe Bryant.
- Pull off the Chris Paul debacle, where if you think about it, better homework should have been done to understand what David Stern was looking for the New Orleans Hornets.
- Approve a knee-jerk trade that sends Lamar Odom for a $8.9M trade exception, which can easily be seen as a salary dump.
- Leave Pau Gasol twisting in the wind as trade rumors swirl around the underachieving big man from Spain.”
This list is a concerning look at the short history of predecessor of a man who built the Lakers franchise up for 30 years to make it the superpower that it was up until only a year ago, Jerry West.
Could this week affect the team’s ability to win games and continue as a successful ball club? Let’s hope that the curse of Hollywood that envelopes so many of it’s high profile inhabitants does not extend to that of a franchise that for so long has been the benchmark of quality NBA teams.