Itâ€™s all about power. The last few days of the Lakers soap opera has been about power, the power to control the direction of the franchise. The power of trust. Kobeâ€™s power as the star player. Jerry Bussâ€™ power as the owner. Jim Bussâ€™ power as the heir apparent. Mitch Kupchackâ€™s power. Jeannie Bussâ€™ power. Jerry Westâ€™s power. Magicâ€™s power. Phil Jacksonâ€™s power to try to bring it all back together.
And Iâ€™m sick of it all, weary of the four-year-olds fighting over the sandbox.
Any regular reader of this blog knows how I feel about the soap opera surrounding the Lakers â€” I despise it. I like it as much as I like the trend of flopping. I started this blog in large part because I wanted to talk about the Lakers on the court at a time all regular media wanted to talk about what Shaq thought of Kupchak and who Kobeâ€™s wife was talking to at games. I just wanted to talk about the games.
And yet, in the last few days I got sucked into the front office power struggle made public, the â€œwho is the insider?â€ soap opera. Certainly all this impacts the team on the court, but itâ€™s still more General Hospital than NBA professional. And I feel like I need a shower just following it.
Is it really all that hard for Kobe, Jim and Jerry Buss, Mitch, Phil and anyone else in the loop to sit down in a room and talk? Is negotiating through the media really necessary? Donâ€™t successful organizations have a master plan that everyone is aware of and working toward? Isnâ€™t talking things out face-to-face what good managers and mature adults do? Not everyone has been mature, but now everyone is being immature.
These are the days that try fansâ€™ souls. It is the kind of day that makes me question my fandom (which Dan said so well) and makes me question blogging about it all.
Kobe says heâ€™s tired of talking. I think I speak for a lot of fans when we say weâ€™re sick and tired of this whole situation, too.
Maybe it costs me a bunch of readers, but Iâ€™m stepping away from the edge of insanity for a couple days. Write what you want in the comments, but Iâ€™m done updating who is fighting for what part of the sandbox for now.
I hope that Kobe and the entire front office can get on the same page, start pulling in the same direction. Like Kobe says in his latest diatribe, I love the Lakers as a franchise and want to see it return to winning. Maybe that is without Kobe, although Iâ€™d prefer him to stay.
But the last few days made me queasy. And I need a break from it.
Cary D says
You further earned my respect, Kurt. No one could have said it better. I took about 6 hours away from it all today and it was great for my mind. I came back and heard he softened a bit. All the talk in between is kinda meaningless anyway and just makes things worse. Worse for Kobe, worse for the Lakers, and worse for all of the fans. This whole thing sucks. No wonder the older school of basketball fans just turn their heads away from modern-day professional sports.
Talk to you when you jump back onto the ship!
Clearly….this is just a cover up because Kurt is the insider…I KNEW IT
Dear Dr. Buss, Mr. Buss, Ms. Buss, Mr Kupchak, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Bryant:
Less drama. More Ws.
I hope kobe doesnt go anywear. i doubt he would though. PLEASE DONT LEAVE KOBE PLEASEE. if u ever read this. dont leave.or ill like litterly cry.
I agree with you Kurt. I’m a die-hard Lakers fan and will be no matter whether Kobe is on the team or not or if Buss sells the Lakers to Moscow. But, I am sick of what has happened to the Lakers just over the past week. I’m tired of Kobe using the media to make his point. I wish this could have been kept “In House.” Also, first Kobe wants to be traded, then just a few hours later says that he wants to stay. What the””””” is up with that. The Lakers organization needs to have a sit down and figure out what direction they are going to go. Also, who is making the decisions on this team, Mitch, Phil, Jim, Jerry, who? When you look at other teams, you know how is in charge, Paxson – Bulls, Colangelo – Raptors, Mullin – Warriors, D’Antoni – Suns. Who is the Lakers front office leader? Lastly, will the NBA fine and/or suspend Kobe for making trade demands through the media like Artest did back in 2006?
Kurt, I’m with you. I hate the off the court drama. But this is what happens when your team is out of the playoffs so early. Nothing to talk about but that drama. But I’m going to take a que from you and chill on reading about all of this.
P.S. I can’t believe that I actually listend to talk radio the last two days. What waste of time. I can’t believe people can actually listen to that stuff for more than 5 minutes at a time.
Jeff from LA says
I’ve had it with ALL of them. Trade Kobe to whatever pitiful team wants him, I hope its to the Hawks or some other pitiful team so he will be able to finally realize the consequences of constantly spitting on his fanbase.
As for Jerry Buss, I hope he’s happy when there’s no one in the seats anymore.
At this point everything has been said and discussed. The ball is in Dr. Jerry Buss’ court (literally). All we can do now as Laker fans is just sit back and watch. No point to sit on pins and needles waiting.
Kobe clearly wants to stay. But he wants to make sure we are going to try to win if he does. If we want to be a mediocre team then he’s not interested in that.
Okay Dr. Buss, what do you want to do??? Do you want to keep Kobe Bryant on your team and try to win now? or do you want to cash in on Kobe’s value while you can and rebuild?
The ball is in your court.
Another reason I can’t wait for NCAA to start again. There’s probably just as much drama, but at least we don’t have to see it. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to refresh ESPN every hour to see what his current disposition is. Agreed that it is exhausting. Oh well, back to watching the Spurs steamroll (surprisingly pretty enjoyable when it looks this dominating).
Jones, I also give the AM talk radio a listen, and couldn’t agree more, senseless non stop BS, they repeat themselves, act like they know it all…just a bunch of crap if you ask me. (after 5 mins, had to switch it off)
I have really never listened to this AM channel since Chick passed away, nothing on there worth listening to, and now I can see I haven’t missed anything.
I did hear though, that Magic had left Kobe a voice messgae and Kobe was anxious to call him back. I guess this is the only outreach from management, what a bunch of pansies, except Magic, the only man in the bunch.
Well said chris
adam kiley says
i hope jerry buss sells the team. Hopefully, to a young(relatively) man, much like he was himself in 1979. It would be like how JKC passed it down to him (sold), but you get the picture.
The buss family has run it’s course in the NBA, it’s about time they handed over the reigns!
My only question… who is that man?
Tony B. says
Maybe Magic can sell his innercity empire and take the Lakers off their hands.
Really, this is a shot across the bow of Laker fans. We might have had more championships if the Big Fella was still around, and yet Kobe doesn’t even have the patience to wait a bit longer. I’m…..well, unfortunately not shocked, but still, somewhat. Uggh. Can we go back to 1985 again? I feel sick. Charles and Magic, ya think they could come back and lose a bit of weight? No? Oh well, it was worth the thought……
dan reines says
hear hear, kurt. me too. call me if something rational happens.
Jerry Buss is 74! We can’t count on him to be in control anymore. Kobe sees the future in Jim Buss and is distressed and disillusioned, and I don’t blame him! Jim Buss doesn’t have the intelligence, experience or knowledge of basketball to be in charge. All of you who play pick-up basketball, how long does it take before you know the skill level of the other guys on the court? 5 minutes? Kobe’s been very patient. He’s very bright. He knows the limitations of the players Mitch has hired. He’s tried to be supportive, and scoring 50 points a night takes it’s toll. Kobe’s desire for Jerry West to return is really sad because it shows how little faith he has in the talent, or lack of talent, in the Lakers front office. It’s a final appeal, and I don’t blame him one bit. We’re lucky he wasn’t hurt this season.
almost like watching a couple fight… just uncomfortable and akward… and I can do nothing to stop it.
My complete trust is in Magic. The voice of reason, that holds the respect and trust of every single person involved. He will slap everyone around, if necessary, to get them back into line.
warren (philippines) says
Good Day to Everyone. Being a newcomer to this family, Id like to express my sincerest gratitude to Kurt who has done a very good job maintaining this site. This is not a “thank you Kurt” blog but I believe Kurt has really done a tremendous job making the site one of the classiest I’ve seen.
The Kobe circus hits every Laker fan like an arrow piercing through the heart. I find it hard to imagine Kobe wearing #8 in another jersey. Yet it makes me want to raise up several points:
a. Knowing how smart Kobe is, I assume he would make a better chess player than a poker player.
b. I value the game of poker as an intellectual game rather than gambling and so, Jerry Buss, being the better player at this point, knows what he is in to.
c. Jim Buss is THE heir, no question. But is he capable?
d. Mitch is a weak GM and much more so a lousy salesman. When somebody had bitten on his lousy products, he overplays it still and ends up not selling anything.
e. Mitch has done so little in his tenure which makes me question what actual powers does he really have. I was thinking perhaps Jimmy Buss was the shadow GM of the team. Mitch seems like merely a puppet or a spokesperson.
f. That Kobe might have overly exhausted his “queen” and now takes a step back to its original grid. Making him want to take back what he had originally suggested.
g. Jerry West, while I say 80% or more of the fan base want him back, is likely to shy away from the limelight and not tarnish the already awesome legacy as a player and a GM that he already has.
h. That Jimmy Buss will likely step it up one notch and show his Daddy that he is capable before Jerry decides to give Jeannie a shot at it.
i. That Phil is nowhere near the extension he is offered unless something miraculous comes up.
j. That the Lakers are one great team almost all other teams love to hate. BEAT L.A. is one chant I have heard so many times.
k. That we are heading the Celtics direction if we sell Kobe short.
l. That Kobe has no better option than stay with the team that loves him and lies to him equally.
m. That Kobe was actually willing to play with Shaq knowing that for 3 more years before the break-up, He can now be the man. Much like David Robinson paved the way fot Tim Duncan.
n. That there is absolutely no instant magic formula for a championship next year.
o. That the Lakers are in one deep hole nobody could think was possible. They are royalty for cryin out loud.
p. That I am more of a Kobe fan first, a Laker fan 2nd.
In spite of everything, I KNOW they can sort it out. Its what mature adults do. Kobe, the smart one among them, know better.
warren (philippines) says
Maybe Magic Johnson can be our GM
Magic Johnson would about as good at GM as he was a talk show host and coach.
I love the Magic man, but…
I’ve read them all and this blog really delivers the goods.
Nice work Kurt!
Certainly, Kobe has to get control over his emotions. But the tone of the interview with Stephen A was one of sincere sadness. He wants to win. Maybe, the Lakers don’t have any tradeable pieces. But something has to be done, not because Kobe is crying for it, but because, long before that the Laker fans were calling for it. And remember, Kobe is a Laker fan also. Let’s look at some championship teams.
Magic = Kobe
Byron Scott >>>>> Smush
Worthy > Odom
AC Green > Luke
Jabbar > Kwame
Jordan = Kobe
Kerr/Paxson > Smush
Pippen > Odom
Rodman > Luke
Kukoc = Kwame
The point is this. Great championship teams have a Kobe and some very good players to play along side him. You might argue that Magic made Byron Scott better, and that Jordan made Pippen better. But let’s face, without any of Magic’s help, Byron Scott could school Smush. Imagine what Jordan would have done if Smush were his point guard. Wouldn’t be pretty. We already know how he handled Kwame.
Daniel Z. says
I haven’t lived in LA for 10 years now, but I still follow the Lakers ever since I was hooked on them during the great years of Kareem and Magic. I am definitely a fan of the Lakers, not necessarily any one player, as I learned a long time ago that the men you see do amazing things on the court are not necessarily amazing off the court.
That said, as I look on from afar at what has happened with the Lakers, I am astounded that they had two of the greatest players ever — Shaq and Kobe — and didn’t find a way to keep them together and continue to win championships. Clearly Kobe is not happy with the way things turned out. He doesn’t seem content with the one big run, having done it three times.
All I know is if it where me, I would look for long-term happiness, which clearly points to a $10 million dollar contract instead of $20 million per year, giving the team enough salary cap room to build a true dynasty like we had in the old days. $10 million plus many championships is better than $20 million and a team that can’t be fixed.
all day yesterday i was flodded with text, email and phone calls about all this nonsense. I refused to ready anything about it all day until I got home from work. I am glad I waited. Just a bunch of nonsense. Really its all just hurt feelings it seems…at least from Kobe’s side….that he was called out by the FO for the Shaq deal. We already knew he wants to win and wants to win now and wants the FO to figure out how to help him with that….so that is nothing new….the is all about the “insider” leak.
What this does do though…is free Kobe of all blame for the Shaq trade…especailly since Shaquille is siding with Kobe on this stuff right now….so there is a positive that can come out of this…regardless of the rest of the out come.
Props to Kurt, awesome site and I do share your disdain for media hype. My gut reaction to Kobe’s demands was support for him. I don’t think a player of his caliber is going out of line to make a point. Jordan made lots of pot shots at the owners for drafting terrible players that never worked out. And as you can see Chicago let Jordan do what he wanted and never set him up in the front office. I believe Jordan and Kobe are similar in nature but in Kobe’s case he’s in his prime with no help to fulfill his winning passion. I think that if Kobe truly wants to win he should stay and renegotiate his contract after 2 years to open up space to bring in talent. But by then Kobe will be 31 so I’m sure Buss will say trade him while we have value because Buss is a gambler with a warped sense of the future. Magic I think is the only real hope the Lakers have at returning to prominence. He’s developed into a great businessman, knows about winning and going through life changing circumstances. Has a great family and is well loved in LA. Magic needs to position himself with people that can handle this business because Buss has played his cards and he’s holding nothing but a pair of kids that don’t know anything about winning.
Your mind can wander when you watch the NBA playoffs instead of playing in them . . . . .
It’s hard to say which happened first in Kobe’s mind:
1. He realized that he had been used and manipulated by Laker management.
2. He realized that Shaquille had been manipulated into being traded (partly by firing Phil) because Jerry Buss didn’t want to get stuck with the outer years of an O’Neill contract.
. . . . .and now they were beginning to do it to him .
They already had him falsely burdened as Shaq’s fall guy.
Jimmy and Mitch need time to rebuild around Andrew, Jordan, and some superstar to be named later and stay under budget.
Last year, they kept under budget in part by starting the Smusher–hardly the sign of a team determined to reach the NBA finals.
Instead of playing to win a championship, his career is a sideshow distraction to fill the seats at Staples
It isn’t about winning after all–it is all about money.
He was just their golden goose until he destructed–now he sees himself as a silly goose.
Phil was window dressing, a smokescreen of respectability.
“Prove us wrong,” Kobe pleads.
“Amen.” DrRayEye agrees.
John R. says
Kukoc = Kwame? That’s awful. Kukoc was a very good player with high cluthness. Kwame is certifiably awful. I find myself insulted by that.
Oh man, I gotta say, if they end up keeping Kobe at this point, the Lakers should feel like a girl from Eagle. Check the locker room for a bloody t-shirt.
Magic wasn’t bigger than the Lakers. Kareem wasn’t bigger than the Lakers. Shaq wasn’t bigger than the Lakers. Wilt wasn’t bigger than the Lakers. West wasn’t bigger than the Lakers. Baylor wasn’t bigger than the Lakers. For the first time in the Lakers proud history, a player is going to be certified bigger than the Lakers. Sad times.
Well, I hope Kobe is a great GM and franchise operator since he seems to think he understands the big picture better than anyone. Do you think he is privvy to the Lakers’ bottom line? Jermaine O’neal makes 19mil this year and 20+mil for two more years and I’m not sure he is a significant upgrade to Odom at this point in his career, let alone after this surgery. If he isn’t the Lakers will have 40+mil tied in two players for the next three years without significantly upgrading their team. What will stop Kobe from walking away then? Guilt over what he has wrought? Doubtful.
You guys better hope Kobe knows what he is doing.
Or that the Lakers come to the decision to let him go.
Outsider looking in in horrid fascination-reminds me of when as kid my parents would get drunk and scream at each other over petty s***.
A few observations if I may.
From waaaay back in the bleachers it looks like Dr. Buss doesn’t respect women and that’s why Jim is the designated successor.
If,as some have speculated,if this was all instigated by Phil,it prob would be to replace Jim w/Jeannie.(Altho it seems a stretch to believe Phil knew the “Insider” could be counted on to say the one thing that would infuriate Bryant. Or Kobe’s faking his anger,or concealing the real reason,or Phil miscalculated,or…or…stop my head hurts.)
I wouldn’t be suprised that the major reason Mitch hasn’t been the Trade Master so many want is a very diluted approval process. Phil came back w/a lot more clout than he had before,so first Mitch has to run a proposal by Phil,then he has to get Jim to sign off on it,and then he has to get Dr Buss’ okay,which means Magic gets consulted,all of whom will give their input,which takes time. And if one of the participants wants to tinker w/the terms,the process starts all over again and I imagine other teams get frustrated and say forget it,or the efforts to make the trade “his”-by any of the group-makes it undoable for the other team. I don’t see West or any other prospective replacement being able to do any better until Buss streamlines the process.
And on a final note,I would bet that at the time the Lakers meant what they said to both Kobe and Phil.(If it’s been relayed accurately.) The Lakers thought they were getting 3 starters off a Heat team that had just had a nice Playoff run,the trade w/Boston was going to get them a serviceable center and a PG who played D-w/either Grant as third big or Butler as sixth man. They would be a good team that might get lucky and make a run at a Title-remember Duncan was injury-plagued that yr w/what looked to be a chronic problem,Phoenix hadn’t exploded,Dallas didn’t scare anybody back then and Houston was going to have nothing but Yao and T-Mac,Sacremento seemed to be in rebuild mode,so the West didn’t look that tough. Then as Grant and Mihm’s contracts expired,either money could be saved or traded for prospects. All they needed to do was find a big man-either in draft or when the 03/04 class was up for new contracts-at the time early extensions were the exception,not the rule.
But Gary screwed the trade for Banks,Grant was hurt,the new coach flopped and events spiraled out of control and they didn’t have a decent Plan B.
Personally, I think we’re more responsible for the drama that gets generated. And Kurt, this post is pretty, well, dramatic in tone.
Might want to think about stepping back and realizing despite whatever the Lakers, or Kobe Bean Byrant does, it’s still just a game and nothing to get too worked up over. Even if you run a blog about them.
So yea Kobe and the Lakers soap opera is drama, but so is everyone here, myself included. Thing is, it’s easier to take it in stride when you realize that.
Personally trading Kobe would benefit me because I could move up the season ticket waiting list….but returning to the Van Exel era sucks
“Unbelievable,” Bryant said. “I called [Lakers general manager] Mitch Kupchak [yesterday] morning to give him a heads-up, to let him know I was going to say I wanted to be traded. That seemed like the right thing to do. So don’t act all surprised when the news comes out. “I’m so tired of all this. The Lakers have been watching me get killed in the media for the past three years. They’ve sat by and watched me get crucified, and they’ve done nothing to help me. I’ve rolled with it up to this point. No more. I’m done.”
I for one did not drink the Kool-Aid.
Kurt, I feel your exasperation.
Everything will be fine, bro!
30. You are right, and I think that’s why I decided to step back from the ledge and not chase this for a few days, I was getting sucked into what I don’t want and stopped enjoying the game. I watched part of San Antonio last night, and loved how they played together. I like the drama in the East right now (even if both of those teams don’t make it out of the first round in the West). I love the game.
28. Got to agree with John R. here â€” Kukoc tends to be wildly underrated. That guys was a damn good player, one who was willing to play his role on that team but could have been a bigger name in a different place.
Yeah I have to agree on that Kukoc tip. He was a very good player and clutch at that. Kwame hasn’t even become half of the player he was.
I have a terrible feeling about the Jermaine O’Neal trade possibility. Aging player, injury prone, huge salary, and overvalued.
I know you all hate trade scenarios, but don’t we have better options? Boston is desperate for change… go after them. Memphis needs help, why not them?
Kurt what are you’re thoughts on JO to LA? do you think it happens for many reasons such as the pressure to get something done? they will overpay there is no question.
37. Depends on the cost. I think JO is a mild upgrade over Odom (JO gives a better inside presence but is less able to play multiple positions like Odom). But if the price is Odom and Bynum, I don’t think you’ve gotten all you can for Bynum. As Drew and Odom are the bigtrade chips we have, I want to get as much as we can for them. Not sure just JO is enough.
Yeah but i don’t think Lakers will get JO and stand pat they will make another move or 2 for good role-players.
like Grant Hill or Steve Blake.
Derek Banducci says
According the ESPN trade machine, the following are some of the few trade scenarios for JO that work financially:
Kobe ($17.7m) for JO ($18.1m)
Bynum ($2m) + Vlad ($5.2m) + Kwame ($8.3m) for JO ($18.1m)
LO ($12.3m) + Bynum ($2m) + Cook ($1.8m) for JO ($18.1m)
Personally, the most I would offer is Bynum + Vlad + Kwame + the #19 pick. Unfortunately, even though Indiana has no 1st round pick, I don’t think this is enough…
What about getting Paul Pierce in a package involving Lamar Odom? Then getting Ron Artest for Kwame Brown? At first glance, KB PP and RA all seem to play similar positions, but this trio would create unbelievable mismatches. Any thoughts?
I’m with Derek here, I’d offer Bynum and the pick and Kwame and whatever to keep Odom in house and get JO. Use the MLE to get a point (to go with Farmar) and a part of it to get another big body (to rotate with Mihm). Then resign Walton and him and Evans as two key guys off the bench. If you can keep the trio of Kobe, Odom and JO healthy, you will win a lot of games, even in the West.
But, I’m not sure that is a realistic scenario.
warren (philippines) says
Bless Lebron for letting me escape from Kobe’s drama and reminding me why the playoffs are still worth watching.. Absolutely phenomenal.
I can’t believe that JO gets more than Kobe. He’s overrated and injury prone. Get somebody else please. We don’t need another “superstar” on this team. What we need is competence. Players like Rasheed Wallace and Rip Hamilton. We won’t get those particular guys. But I would take two of that type over one JO anyday.
No JO without keeping LO.
Aren’t we looking at the same “two players making way too much $ so we can’t pay anybody else, Karl Malone, Gary Payton scenario” here?
Looks like it’s down to Rambis and Stan Van Gundy in Sacramento according to the sacbee.com.
An NBA source said some teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, have called the Nuggets to inquire about center Marcus Camby, although nothing imminent is on the table.
I would take Camby way ahead of JO if I had the choice?
BTW, Does anyone know how that would work salary wise?
A Dream could come true
Odom & Bynum for Jermaine, Kwame’s expiring and future pick for Camby, S&T Luke Walton for Artest…And sign Blake for the MLE. All 3 guys could be in LA, and Lakers have a lot of tradeable contracts, my scenario is feasible IMO but there could be a combination of trades to get the 3 in LA. Easier said then done but it’s feasible.
Honestly i think most of you guys are underestimating LO’s value to the team and any other team he might go to. The guy can play 4 different positions on the floor JO can only play 2. HE IS A LOT MORE VALUABLE TO ANY TEAM THAN JO!!! So unless its a straight up deal i wouldn’t touch that trade. The sad thing is that every team now knows that the Lakers are in a bit of predictament so that kind of weakens their postion in talking trades with other teams. I say make a run for Artest if that doesn’t work out then you bring in a couple of veteran role players and stick it out for another year because you’ll have Kwame’s 9mil off the books and then you can pursue a top notch FA!
Derek Banducci says
It would take a whole lot to convince me that trading LO is a good idea if we want to win today b/c LO is our best player against Phoenix (better than Kobe) and we need to beat Phoenix if we plan to win anything today.
As to the point that LO can play 5 (or 4) different positions, I don’t give that too much weight simply because he can play only one position at a time. Also, with a well constructed lineup LO should only be asked to play one position on a regular basis, either SF or PF.
Word JO in LA soon ..
Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and the No. 19 pick.
They’ll be willing to throw in another player (take your pick of Jamaal Tinsley, Troy Murphy or Marquis Daniels) for Kwame Brown’s expiring contract.
That’s a heavy price for O’Neal, but if the Lakers are really going to appease Kobe, this might be the price they have to pay.
kind of sad ..
I knew this situation would bring John R. slithering back out of his hole.