It’s awful to watch, awful to see, awful to think ahead of what is in store.
LA Lakers basketball, once a flagship franchise in the NBA, is in a state of disrepair. Headed to the NBA lottery, with a roster full of fringe players, and an aging and injured super star.
The franchise that gave us “Showtime”, Kobe and Shaq, Jerry and Elgin and Wilt, now gives us no quality now, and little hope for the future.
Kobe Bryant, plagued by a torn Achilles and a fractured kneecap, now has labrum damage in a shoulder, and is in the twilight of a Hall of Fame career. But the Black Mamba star we used to see, no longer shines brightly. When he plays, if he plays, we see more 3-for-13 shooting nights than the explosive ‘I will carry this team to victory’ nights.
He has played just 8-of the last 16-games, plagued by new injuries, chronic pain in the Achilles in his good leg, not so much from the one he tore a couple of years ago.
The guy who scored 81 one night years ago, spends as much time dishing off and piling up assists, than he does taking control of games, burying jump shots, driving to the rim. Losses mount daily.
And where once upon a time, there was Shaq O’Neill or Pau Gasol, the roster is filled out with people you do not know, would not recognize, and hardly make a difference. Yes there is a Carlos Boozer, or a one year wonder like Jeremy Lin. But there are no names like Ed Davis and Ronnie Price, Robert Sacre and Wesley Johnson.
The era is definitely over. Despite the rings they won, Shaq and Kobe, when they were not feuding, it ended badly. The gamble to trade for, and hope you could sign Dwight Howard, ended badly after one season. The price they paid for Steve Nash was extensive and he broke down badly. There was no LeBron James signing, no Carmelo Anthony coming to LA either, a bad sign too of things to come.
Where Phil Jackson held court as coach once, ownership has run thru people like Mike D’Antoni, Mike Brown, Rudy Tomjanovich. Where GM-Jerry West, then Mitch Kupchack made deals that continued the years of excellence, you have seen now the end result of the late owner’s son Jim Buss, failing to get it done, and besmirching the proud reputation of Jerry Buss’ decades of excellence.
You close your eyes and you remember 44-22-13 on the floor winning rings, the West-Baylor-Chamberlain times. You remember 33-Jabbar, and the entourage around him, Big Game James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Jamal Wilkes, Michael Cooper and so many others.
The Lakers, all they have left, are memories, and championship banners and jerseys hanging from the rafters. From the top of the building then to the basement in the standings now, this has been quite a fall to witness..
Kobe Bryant is the last one standing, from what was the richest franchise in the NBA, financially and in royalty. All we have now is a look forward to the draft lottery, and hope that Kobe can play another year, or some free agent will commit to be part of a rebuild.
It’s awful, and it’s not going to get better. The great run, the great times are gone, likely forever.