Lakers Fall to the Bottom This Time
By Mitch Chortkoff
A year ago, when the Lakers completed one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, I wrote Anatomy of a Disaster and had no intention of following with another similar article.
But throughout this season, the worst since the Lakers moved here in 1960 from Minneapolis, readers have frequently requested Part 2 of this story.
So here it is.
It was bad enough last season when Kobe Bryant averaged 45 minutes a game down the stretch trying to get the Lakers into the playoffs. They made it, all right, then were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
My colleague, Bosmat Eynav, who works in the medical field, was outraged when Bryant stayed in a game three times after being injured and inspected by trainers, then tore his Achilles.
Who's in charge here? The coach, the trainer, someone from the front office? Or just Kobe?
It was the final straw in a season of disaster.
But it got worse this season.
Ignoring the Lakers' long history of doing things right, of putting highly competitive teams on the court, the Lakers signed half a dozen good shooters who had been cut by other teams, engaged in a madcap three-point shooting spree and tumbled 20 games under .500 with no chance of making the playoffs.
There has been no defense, and no improvement in that important area over 82 games.
Under new owner Jim Buss the Lakers signed center Dwight Howard, who wasn't going to tolerate Coach Mike D'Antonio's long distance shooting plan. And they signed 38-year-old Steve Nash to a three-year contract. How is he going to slow down the league's array of small, swift guards? He isn't.
This shaped up as a bad season but the Lakers got real unlucky when Bryant didn't heal fast and played in only six games.
Joe Smith, a 52-year season ticket holder known for his parties with Laker players, has called the Lakers' current situation pathetic. And it doesn't help that the Lakers have moved up the date for renewing season tickets, asking for the money before fans will know who's going to be on next season's team.
The Lakers say the NBA has requested moving up the date and other teams are doing the same thing. But it's another in a series of dilemmas here.
It looks like the Clippers will be Los Angeles' best team for several years. Only the most loyal Laker fans expect something dramatic to happen to prevent this from happening.
The only positive news lately is the Lakers' announcement that they're going to build a new practice facility in El Segundo.
They hope that will help attract free agents. It seems like a longshot to me.
Sure they'll sign some. But the most attractive ones will be looking for a team with a chance of winning a championship. That's not the Lakers anymore.
And when will it be the Lakers again? If you know, let me know.