Los Angeles Lakers: The Modern-Day Ozymandias
by David Neff
The dust is beginning to settle on what has to be the most embarrassing time to be a Laker fan. Luke Walton is out, Magic Johnson is out and soon Rob Pelinka should be shown the door. Magic Johnson was the absentee executive who wasn’t allowed to show Ben Simmons some moves or can’t tweet a congratulations to Dwayne Wade and now is part of an advisory board to Serena Williams. Rob Pelinka apparently has burned too many bridges to be considered in good standing. Luke Walton was thrown under the bus by his own executives and parted ways mutually with the team. What a mess.
Being gifted future Hall-of-Famer LeBron James to bring leadership onto the team, you would think that the Lakers would develop this team into young talent with potential All-Stars. Yet, after seeing Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and Brook Lopez develop into amazing talent, what talent do they have? They traded Ivica Zubac who was quickly becoming a fan-favorite and a difference maker for 16 games of 5.3 points and 2.4 rebounds a game of Mike Muscala? Meanwhile Zubac, playing for the LA Clippers, states ‘Check our game out if you want to see good basketball’ while dropping 9 points a game and 7.2 rebounds. Lonzo Ball is largely teetering on the line of a major bust with injury issues along with Brandon Ingram. Josh Hart lost his ability to shoot 3’s. Kyle Kuzma has been the only talent that has continued to improve. Meanwhile, the Lakers couldn’t trade Caldwell-Pope, McGee, or Rondo for anything noteworthy.
However, this doesn’t correlate to a championship let alone a playoff team. For some time now, the Lakers have had this notion that playing for the Lakers is bestowed on someone and that you are blessed to even be wearing the purple and gold. That everyone wants to be a Laker and that every person ideally would be a Laker fan. Then the failed trade in which the Lakers were screwed by David Stern for Chris Paul happened. Which lead to the rush trade and mortgaging of the future for Steve Nash. Which lead to the swan song of Kobe Bryant and now the current format of the Lakers. It reminds me of Percy Shelley’s poem Ozymandias in which the inevitable decline of rulers with pretentious nature to greatness. In the poem, it describes a travelers directing a reader to a pedestal in the sand. On that pedestal it reads “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings; look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Yet, nothing remained as stretches of the desert surrounded the pedestal.
The point of this analogy is the Lakers like to point to the eras of the Showtime Lakers, the Kobe and Shaq eras, the Chamberlain eras of greatness that has happened. Then bring in players from those eras without experience to lead back to those glory days of ball-dominant guards and up tempo pace. Yet, as the other teams have progressed, the Lakers are lost in their own desert and here’s a cold hard fact, they’ve lost more games than any other NBA team in the last six years and haven’t tasted championship gold in almost ten years. That is the fault of no one else than Jeanie Buss owner of the LA Lakers who assumed control after her father passed away. They can continue to circle the bowl if they wish but, their cross-town rivals are thriving and their biggest rivals, the Boston Celtics, are closer to a title then they ever were.
So how do they fix this? Well for starters, they need an executive who can truly measure the talent of this team. How far can they go and who can they bring in to be competitive. They need to complete the trifecta and release Rob Pelinka from his contract. The same executive they hire has to be someone that can see the progression of the NBA as of 2019 and not 1989. Let them bring in their own staff and begin by building trust with their team all over again. If they somehow get the number one overall pick and select Zion Williams, then build around him and bring in pieces that will bring the Lakers to this decade.