Lakers Gameplan: Inspired by the Underpants Gnomes?
The Los Angeles Lakers say they have a plan.
That's a start.
Nobody outside their chosen few knows what it is, but here are a couple of clues:
- GM Mitch Kupchak has announced that "Dwight [Howard] is our future."
- Kupchak has also bestowed the proverbial Mafia kiss on his coach, saying he fully supports Mike d'Antoni.
These darkly comic declarations were made despite the Lakers having: a) a losing record, b) a lack of effective coaching, and c) a tumultuous relationship brewing within the team. Apparently, Kupchak believes none of this has any lasting impact on what lies ahead.
Kupchak has had success with radical moves in the past, so he's earned his credibility. Still, he's definitely put it on the line this time.
Nothing about Howard screams 'Lakers.’ He doesn’t have look, feel, or attitude to which we are accustomed from that organization, but maybe that’s the point. And maybe it's not the GM calling these shots. Maybe the bright light behind this affirmation is Jim Buss.
Perhaps Buss the Younger is trying to put his stamp on the Lakers’ after the passing of his father. The possibility exists that he is trying to prove that he can make bold, decisive moves. Maybe there's some sibling rivalry happening here. After all, it was his sister, Jeanie, who was groomed by their father to run the franchise. She is the face of the Lakers; we know her and love her charm and charisma. She is everything that Jim isn’t. As an heir, it is understandable why he feels he needs to take a higher profile in the front office. However, he has yet to prove he's a basketball guy and lacks the personality necessary to evoke any kind of confidence in his ability.
Jim Buss needs to realizes one fundamental of the sports business sooner rather than later: There is a stark difference between owning a team and running one. Look at Dallas Cowboys owner and puppetmaster Jerry Jones. He may have played for the Arkansas Razorbacks alongside Jimmy Johnson back in the day, but his major was business, not football. All the money and control in the world has not helped him to put the Cowboys back on top. All Lakers fans can do is hope that another dynasty will not fall because of one man’s ego. At least Jim Buss has the sagacity to retain a strong GM with a proven record to buy the needed time to show his own true worth. If it's there.
Maybe, a few seasons from now, what seems like ill-advised and risky moves today turns out to be the best choices ever made. Then again, what we see as a senseless and silly will be just that. Opinions aside, the fact is for it will be difficult for anyone to fill the shoes of Jerry Buss.
Unfortunately for his son, it's much easier to fill those of the Underpants Gnomes.