Down Times & Perception Problems

Darius Soriano —  May 27, 2011

Over the past few days many stories have run about the Lakers and few of them have been positive. Our links were littered with them this morning and that’s only a sampling of what’s being said about the Lakers in both the print and electronic media. The gist of the criticism revolves around the hiring of Mike Brown as head coach and the ascension of Jim Buss as the primary decision maker for this organization.

What the Lakers are experiencing now isn’t unlike much of the other drama filled stories that they’ve dealt with for decades. From the firing of Paul Westhead 30 years ago to Kobe’s trade demands in 2007 and everything in between, this organization has found itself in the middle of a media storm for a long, long time.

However, this time it feels different. With Jerry Buss taking a backseat to his son and the lack of a Phil Jackson or Pat Riley level head coach in place (no disrespect to Mike Brown, but his résumé doesn’t measure up to those guys) this team is now in a position where they’re having trouble changing the narrative.

But is this really fair? And even more important, is what’s going on with this franchise today really that different than what it’s been through in the past?

Those are complex questions with answers that aren’t as easy as many would like them to be.

However, what is clear, after following this team for so long is that it’s easiest to pounce when things are going poorly. As was stated by Joel in the comments of a previous thread, “This new Jim Buss era thing, Kobe/Brown potential strenuous relationship is just overblown. This is more residual panic and frustration left over from the playoffs than anything else.”

When times are hardest it’s easier to question and second guess (there’s a reason fans want to trade everyone in the midst of a losing streak). After the Shaq trade, many were ready to storm the gates of the Lakers headquarters. The same could be said after the Showtime Lakers were taken out by the Celtics in the 1984 (and 2008).

What we’re seeing today isn’t that different. The fact that these recent decisions can play into preconceived notions about people only make narratives harder to break. Questions about Mike Brown and/or Jim Buss are fair. They’re relatively unprove commodities taking power over power positions in one of the most successful franchises in professional sports. That said, coming to conclusions that their ability to do well in their positions with little evidence to support those conclusions (beyond our own biases) is not, in my opinion.

However, this is where we are. The Lakers have been swept out of the playoffs. Long time employees are being shown the door. A coach with no skins on the wall who’s failed in a similar situation is taking over a team built to win a championship now. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Right now, the Lakers are at a bit of a low point and have a perception problem.

And while I’m in the camp of preaching patience and letting some of these moves play out before coming to a final conclusion, others will not agree with this approach. Welcome to the world where every move will be scrutinized and there’s no longer a Finals berth or an NBA championship to insulate and shield this franchise from those with the sharpened spears of criticism. Whether or not those criticisms end up being true with the worst assumptions becoming fact is not yet known. But, in this down time and with no games to change the story, this is what we’re in for. Buckle in Lakers fans, it’s going to be a long summer.

Darius Soriano

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