Yesterday I wrote an article intimating that Lakers star, Kobe Bryant, was taking a players perspective when expressing his frustrations with the Pau Gasol trade rumors. While I felt it was a great show of leadership for Kobe Bryant to stick up for his teammate, I didn’t think placing public pressure on the organization to make a trade or not make a trade did the team or the organization any good. So on the surface, Kobe’s rant really served no positive purpose outside of showing his support for Gasol, which has been doing all along anyway.
However according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, Kobe’s rant had less to do with his frustration with the Pau trade rumors, and more to do with the structure of the organization as a whole:
The Lakers’ front office is an uncommunicative, rudderless fiasco, and the unrest and paranoia that have been festering for years threaten to derail the team’s plans to ride Bryant to his sixth NBA title while they still can. And much of it can be traced to the growing influence of executive vice president Jim Buss, the owner’s bon vivant son, who has helped transform a great franchise into a steaming pool of nepotism and nincompoops.
Joey Buss, another son of the owner who runs the team’s D-League franchise, has moved into Jackson’s old office. Jesse Buss, 23, who was arrested for alcohol intoxication in Lexington, Ky., on a “scouting” trip in December, has moved into (Ronnie) Lester’s former office.
For any avid fan of Laker Nation, this should not come as a surprise, as our own Jason Riley predicted this months ago. But I don’t think most Laker fans could have imagined that the changes would be this embarrassingly drastic. According to Berger, of the Lakers 3 college scouts, only one of them has a proven track record, and that’s Ryan West, son of Lakers great Jerry West. The other two? The aforementioned Jesse Buss and a bartender named Chaz who is reportedly an old friend of Jim Buss from his horse-breeding days. I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to people.
Berger also writes that Jim Buss’s “guy” Mike Brown has also been left out of the loop on many matters regarding the team and that frustration is mounting for many in the organization, including Gasol and Bryant:
Brown, hired in May, learned of the team’s decision to trade Lamar Odom to the Mavericks for essentially nothing after the deal already had been completed. Sources with ties to the team say no explanation has been given to Bryant or Brown as to what the Lakers plan to do with the trade exception received in the deal….Odom’s frustration erupted after he was included in the aborted trade to New Orleans that would’ve sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. And now the same lack of communication, indecision and inertia are eroding Gasol’s fragile psyche and pushing Bryant to the point of disgust.
And of course the coup de grace; Laker fans have been hanging their hats on the fact the Purple and Gold will at some point acquire disgruntled Orlando center, Dwight Howard in hopes of re-invigorating the franchise. However, according to what Berger has been told, that move is unlikely to happen.
The other GMs know what’s going on,” said one of the people familiar with the Lakers’ chaos. “Jim has no relationships with other GMs, and they also know they’re going to be able to swoop in there and do things [in trades]. This is a real critical time. The chances of Dwight Howard coming in there are slim and none at this point.”
With all of this reported dysfunction within the organization, one can understand Kobe Bryant’s growing frustration with what has been considered one of the best and more classy organizations in all of pro sports. Lashing out about the trade rumors in the media was likely just an eruption of emotion stemming from these frustrations, and unfortunately for Laker fans, it seems as if things may get a lot worse before they get better.