Lakers–NBA…Chaos to Championship”
That era was over, one of many to pass into history.
Jerry West-Elgin Baylor.
Magic Johnson and Showtime.
Shaq and Kobe and Phil.
The last six years have been horrible.
All franchises have to go thru rebuilding, but these were the Jerry Buss owned Los Angeles Lakers, winners of 16-NBA trophies.
It was horrible, as the legendary owner passed on, and that last of the legacy players, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant left, as did Coach Phil Jackson.
What replaced the Lakers was dysfunction and then disaster, as the children of the late Dr. Buss fought for control of the once proud franchise.
Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss became embroiled in a horrid fight for control of the team.
The franchise fell into disarray. The Dwight Howard experiment proved disastrous. The future center, Andrew Bynum physically broke down and was dealt away.
They tried to deal for Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, but were blocked by the league office, losing him to the LA Clippers across the hallway, as the Clippers began their own drive to fix a decades long losing franchise.
The once proud team could not even get marquee free agents like Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge to accept their ‘max’ free agent offers.
Jim Buss authorized gross contracts given to C-Tim Mozgov (64M) and ex Bull Luol Deng (72M). It got so bad, the Lakers paid Deng 18M not to play the final year of his contract after benching him for large segments of the year prior.
The spillover stained the career of then GM-Mitch Kupchack, caught in the front office crossfire. Young aspiring coach Luke Walton was removed.
Tyronn Lue and others turned down coaching offers to take over the troubled franchise.
A revolving door of Lakers coaches fell victim to the politics games upstairs, and lost struggles to control the egos of players along the way.
And to add insult to injury, the NBA disciplined the Lakers three times for tampering, with fines stretching from 50,000 to 500,000-dollars for making comments about other teams soon to be free agents.
Magic Johnson came out of retirement,promising better days, but did not deliver, eventually quitting on the team the final night of the season.
Jeanie Buss won a power struggle with her brother, ousting him and a second brother from operational control of the team.
Super agent Rob Pelinka, Kobe Bryant’s trusted friend, took over the team and laid the ground work as the Mamba moved to the twilight of his career.. They started to rebuild thru the draft, with Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart.
The convinced LeBron James to leave Cleveland, set up shop at Staples Center and begin a post-basketball career in Hollywood with a movie production company.
Then Pelinka used all of his assets to swing the blockbuster trade with New Orleans to land the best big man in the game Anthony Davis.
The year 2020 goes down not just for the Orlando bubble, the Covid-crisis, but the sad death of Kobe Bryant and the outpouring of NBA emotion over his loss.
The Lakers played well because of their 2-man superstar team. They found bench parts. But they dominated because of the fierce pride, leadership and basketball expertise of King James and the gifts of AD.
Lakers basketball turned from dysfunction to distinction in winning the ring. Whether this is a one-off or beginning of something akin to the next dynsasty, only next season will tell.
But from chaos to a championship, it was a special run.