As tempting as it is to blame Jim Buss for the Los Angeles Lakers’ demise, the actual culprit is David Stern.The franchise saw the writing on the wall during the 2011 winter, and made a move that sent chills to the rest of the league. Mitch Kupchak pulled the trigger on an epic trade with the then New Orleans Hornets.The transaction had Chris Paul joining the Purple and Gold, while Lamar Odom was redirected to New Orleans and Pau Gasol went over to the Houston Rockets. The swap allowed the Lakers to start over without actually rebuilding.Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner of the L.A. Times offered this observation of the Lakers: “The trade would have symbolized the Lakers' shift from finesse, precision and depth in the frontcourt to speed and athleticism in the backcourt.”Indeed, the team had a nucleus of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Paul. That three-headed monster would have immediately restored the Lakers mystique and likely allowed the squad to sit atop the standings.Sadly for the Los Angeles faithful, the NBA commissioner famously vetoed the trade for basketball reasons and forced Kupchak to look elsewhere to improve the roster. The league had purchased the Hornets because the previous owner could no longer cover the costs, which meant that Stern was its de facto owner.In the aftermath of the rejected proposal, the Lakers eventually moved around some parts, and the result is the disaster the franchise is facing today.Nonetheless, one can only wonder where the Lake Show would be had Stern allowed the transaction to pass.What Could Have BeenIn an alternate universe where David Stern allowed Chris Paul to join the Los Angeles Lakers, the team’s fortunes would have been vastly different. Indeed, the 2011-12 team probably finishes with the third-best record in the Western Conference and meets up with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round.Although the Thunder probably prevail, the Lakers take them to seven games and give their fans something to look forward to in the near future. With the best point guard in the game on board, players are lining up to join the Purple and Gold in the offseason on the cheap.The Lakers get an opportunity to add talented pieces and compete for titles. What’s more, the front office probably still acquires Dwight Howard in a four-team trade where Andrew Bynum lands with the Philadelphia 76ers.Howard is a shell of his former self because of back surgery, but he still gives Los Angeles some good interior play, which leads to a few wins. The Lakers are probably a good offensive unit despite the shortcomings of Mike Brown on this side of the ball and in addition, Kobe Bryant enjoys a functional working relationship with Howard.
I regret reading this....it just makes my blood boil, but it's so true. The blame Jim is getting from us fans are mostly (*cough MDA) undeserved. The malice I have towards that midget is incomprehensible.