The Lakers were known for being inconsistent, and not getting motivated for every game.
However, they still were the faviortes to come out of the West, and contend for another NBA Championship. Instead, that chance for a three-peat was cut short by a second-round sweep from the Dallas Mavericks.
While the loss took many by surprise, internally, coaches began to see signs of the unraveling of a potential NBA dynasty early.
In a piece for Sporting News, Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons discussed the splintering that cut this year’s playoff run short:
“It’s quite a revelation to live through something like that and you can see it happening in front of your very eyes and you can’t do anything about it…You’re helpless to change the course of destiny. You know an ass-kicking is coming, but you have to just sit there and accept that ass-kicking.”
Cleamons also mentioned the idea that the Lakers had, as a team, broken away from everything that they had built themselves to be over the few years and that his warnings often fell upon deaf ears.
“You want to tell them what’s getting ready to happen, but the group of young men you’re teaching right now, the lights are on but nobody’s home.”
For now, Cleamons has found himself out of a job, having been involved with the Lakers for their last five championships but now out the door with the retirement of Phil Jackson.
Cleamons contends that he is open to “any coaching job”, a surprising fall from grace given his nine championship rings with the Lakers and the Chicago Bulls.