A controversial off-season has seen the Lakers hire a new head coach without consulting with their star player, unceremoniously parting ways with assistant coach Brian Shaw, and as Assistant GM Ronnie Lester put it the “Lakers are throwing employees out in the cold”.
Author Roland Lazenby joined the Voice of the Nation on Thursday night to discuss exactly what is going on in the Lakers organization. He intimated that the loss of Phil Jackson and the rise to power of Jim Buss could have a major negative impact on the organization moving forward.
“Tex Winter told me that Jim Buss had a different way of doing things and i heard comments behind the scenes by people who said things may get difficult for the organization once Phil left…Just the way the employees are being treated we’re seeing the beginning of a huge gap in the wake of his leaving” Lazenby said.
It has been well documented that Lakers center Andrew Bynum was Jim Buss’ draft pick and is “his guy”, however it has never been up for discussion who the leader of the Lakers team is, Kobe Bryant. However, Lazenby believes that the hiring of Mike Brown could signal a changing of the guard (or at least the desire for a changing of the guard), and even hinted that Jim Buss’ rising influence within the organization could have been one of the factors that led to Jerry Wests’ departure from the organization 10 years ago.
“Jerry West kept looking down the road as the way things were headed and was uncomfortable with it…The biggest message that Jim Buss has sent with the hiring of Mike Brown is that this is the ‘Drew Bynum era and this is ‘Drew Bynums’ coach.” Lazenby said.
A very interesting quote considering that when asked about Andrew Bynums’ touches on the offensive end of the floor going into next season, Kobe Bryant was quoted as saying, “Im going to shoot the ball, Pau is going to get his touches. He’s no. 2. And then [Andrew] will have to fall in line.”
One of the more interesting revelations the Roland Lazenby told the Voice of the Nation is that Jim Buss does not have a close working relationship with many of the Lakers employees and often times does not even see them:
“Jim Buss doesn’t even really have an office. He’s spent time with these people [laker employees] but he’s apart from things and hes going to have a different style than his dad.” Lazenby said.
For an organization that has been known as one of the classiest and most professional in all of pro sports, it has not been a banner off-season to say the least. It is very possible that everything that has gone on is a minor bump in the road and the Lakers will continue their decades long success. However, so many drastic changes in just one off-season could possibly offset what has taken years for Dr. Jerry Buss to build.
Rarely in sports does cleaning house in an already successful organization bode well for that franchise moving forward. Fans of the Purple and Gold should hope that for the Lakers sake, they will be an exception rather than another victim of the rule.
To listen to the entire interview with Roland Lazenby, download Voice of the Nation #145