This is the first of two parts.
L.A. Times: The best of times were a memory and the worst of times had just begun in the spring of 2005 when the Lakers drafted 17-year-old Andrew Bynum out of high school in what seemed the maraschino cherry on the sundae of their dysfunction.
Dysfunction was a popular word around them after eight years of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, but those now seemed like the good old days.
O’Neal was gone. Jerry West was gone. Chick Hearn was gone.
Rudy Tomjanovich, hired to replace Phil Jackson, had come and gone, fleeing within months to be replaced by . . . Jackson, who had been gone but was back.
Owner Jerry Buss, who had let Jackson go and was obliged to rehire him, seemed out of touch, musing that his 34-48 team could be in the Western Conference finals in “a couple of years.”
In fact, Buss was more detached than ever, involving his son Jim in decisions, which, as far as Lakers fans were concerned, was like Jed Clampett turning the Beverly Hillbillies over to nephew Jethro.
The real heat was on General Manager Mitch Kupchak, whose challenge — build a dynasty from the ashes of the old one — was the NBA equivalent of “Mission: Impossible.”