Have you boarded up all your windows? Have you planned your exit strategy? Are you truly prepared for the most devastating hurricane to ever hit the Lakers Nation? Will you remain with the Nation during the long rebuilding phase? Will you take root in a different city, for a different team, until the Nation is rebuilt?
We all have different answers and we all have different motivations.
One thing, however, applies to us all… the Hurricane is striking.
No matter how you look at it, this is a good thing and this is a bad thing. For sure it is a bad thing because of what it has and will continue to do to us… it will divide us. Just like the front office has too many voices and too many opinions, so do all the fans. None of us knows which way to move. That has led to a lot of paralysis. The good is that the hurricane will assuredly rescue us from our paralysis. One way or the other, we will be able to move forward. The question is, what will be left for us?
If you believe in the long tradition of the Lakers and in the long standing success of the Buss family ownership, then you believe the hurricane will usher in new opportunity and new blood that will give us all significant light at the end of the tunnel. In short, we will either contend now or within a few years as a result of this storm.
How the Storm Gained Strength:
Kobe is certainly no angel. We can all agree to this. However, there is significant disagreement as to what has happened and why. I have my own personal theory: The front office, particularly Jim Buss, has been at odds with Kobe and Phil. Initially the idea was to build as much of a contending team quickly. Then, after some horrible trades, Kobe began to get the feeling that the agenda had changed, and that changed everything.
“Mitch came to me one day and had the nerve to ask me how good I thought Bynum would be in 10 years. Are you kidding me? 10 years? I want to win now!”
- Kobe Bryant via Kobe Video Guys
Much has been said regarding Kobe’s desire to “have his own team.” During some recent questioning, Kobe correctly stated that he has never said such a thing. He did, however, tell Jim Gray in an interview that if he did not return to the Lakers, a large part of it would be because of Shaq’s pettiness. When the whole feud played out in the media, the Lakers front office was no where to be found. When Shaq began to grow caustic, the front office was no where to be found.
If Kobe first went public with this whole situation in May to get the front office to act in a way befitting a championship organization, it has absolutely failed because the front office is again, no where to be found. Kobe recently emphasized his prior comments that his true wishes were to be a Laker for life.
“Were.” Past tense. His comment tells us he has always wanted to be a Laker for life. In the same comment, Kobe said “business is business,” A ruthless truth for the unsuspecting fan. What would cause someone who wanted to play their whole career as a Laker to change their mind suddenly? Is it simply an issue of not winning, or is it more of an issue of not trying to win? Is it somewhere in between such as trying win but through developing young talent? Or is it something different all together?
Business is business. A contract is a contract. Kobe signed a contract. Jerry Buss owns Kobe. The only thing Kobe can do if he doesn’t like it is to complain or request a trade (that doesn’t have to be fulfilled).
Somewhere along the line, Kobe decided he didn’t like how things were looking with the team. When I say team, I mean players on the court and personnel within the franchise.
Kobe told Craig Sager at half-time that the fans didn’t know what was going on. This begs the question, what has gone on, what is going on, and will happen?
Magic Johnson recently had words of reprimand for both Kobe and the front office. The problem did take two parties to create and whether the chicken or the egg came first (who started the dispute) is mostly irrelevant at this point. My personal belief is that the trade demand came only after Kobe realized it was either him or Jim and he knew there was little chance that Jim Buss would be let go. I base this theory on the fact that Kobe’s first hint of being disgruntled was when he said if they didn’t bring back Jerry West that they “might as well” trade him (meaning there was no reason to have him around since they weren’t going to try to win now). Kobe also mentioned that he did not trust anyone in the front office. Since this time, Kobe and Mitch Kupchak have met and things appeared to be smoothed over between Kobe and the Lakers until part way through training camp in Honolulu.
When the storm hits, the Lakers will have either traded Kobe or significant talent around Kobe for some new players. Magic Johnson’s opinion, as of recently, was that the Lakers would attempt to bring in new talent around Kobe. If it weren’t for boatloads of rumors swirling in Chicago, this would be my opinion as well. Whether or not you like Kobe as a player, we do not know everything about him as a person. We know he wants to win and will do all he can to win. That’s the good news. If Jerry Buss has thrown in the towel regarding Jim’s position and winning now, then Kobe will make sure he gets what he perceives to be the better of the deal when he’s traded. Lakers fans are horrified about this.
If Kobe truly is on the trading block, then Kobe’s comments to Craig Sager mean that the fan doesn’t know what’s happening within the organization, because (presumably) if they did know they would not boo Kobe.
If Kobe knows that he is not being traded, but that the team is actually going to surround him with talent that can perform better than the team does now, it would explain Kobe’s comments to Craig Sager (I’m staying and the fan’s don’t know it) but would not explain Magic Johnson’s comments (Not knowing is affecting Kobe too).
The most likely presumption is the former. With all the smoke of these rumors, it’s the only explanation. Kobe has decided that the organization isn’t one that he wants to be a part of. His conclusion could be as simple as one person, such as not liking Jim Buss, or it could be as complex as his feeling that the Lakers are in the middle of a lengthy rebuilding project
that he just doesn’t want to be a part of. Either way, Kobe’s own words indicate that the franchise is moving in a direction that he never agreed to and so he would prefer to move.
One thing is for certain, when the Katrina of the Lakers Nation hits, it will devastate. Fans will be divided and there will be hurt feelings. Among the rubble will be the building blocks that will be used to build up the future once again. Your level of confidence in the front office will determine whether or not you think the team will be rebuilt quickly or if it will take years or perhaps decades.
Hopefully someday, we will know the answers about this hurricane. What exactly caused it, how it can be avoided in the future, and where we go from here. In the meantime, the fans can only take it one day at a time and speculate about everything else.
The only thing not up for debate is that a powerful storm is here, and it will strike us all.