While this popularity has its benefits, it certainly has its drawbacks too.
One of the most significant disadvantages is that the team is continuously under a microscope, open to excessive scrutiny.
Every team in the NBA has their controversies, but the ones that are most talked about are those involving the Lakers.
Every season, as a result of constant attention by the media and fans, Lakers controversies tend to go out of control.
This season was no exception.
Here is a list of the 10 most overblown controversies of the Lakers’ season.
When Mike Brown was hired as the Lakers’ new head coach, many people were surprised.
However, many were even more surprised when they found out how the Lakers front office handled the ordeal.
Then, former Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw stated that he found out about the hiring on ESPN—he “wasn’t really told anything.”
The media criticized these actions.
Not only did they place a lot of the blame on Jim Buss, but they also questioned his ability to communicate and handle team operations.
While Buss’ communication skills should come into question, the scrutiny he underwent made the entire situation more damaging than it should have been.
With Paul, not only were the Lakers contenders now, but they would also be a major threat in the future too.
Then, suddenly, David Stern invalidated the trade—in other words, he vetoed it.
This caused a frenzy, and that’s an understatement.
Immediately, fans, analysts, etc. shared their outrage towards David Stern, the dictator.
When you look at it now, however, the controversy that surrounded the infamous veto seems overblown—especially for the Lakers.
What if the original trade went through? Sure, the Lakers would have Chris Paul, but they would have lost one of the biggest advantages: their size in the frontcourt.
Also, how would Paul and Bryant work together?
It can be argued that today’s Lakers are better off without Paul because they have the best frontcourt in the league, a superstar scorer and a speedy and efficient point guard.
When Lamar Odom was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, many questioned what Mitch Kupchak was thinking.
The Lakers’ size advantage and biggest contributor off the bench seemed long gone.
When looked at now, the frenzy surrounding the Odom trade was exaggerated to say the least.
While the Lakers’ bench is now the worst in the league, the team is doing very well without Odom as the No. 3 seed in the west.
Meanwhile, Odom let his emotions get the best of him as he played lackadaisically with the Mavericks—he was recently named inactive for the rest of the season.
After the first 20 games, the Lakers were 11-9.
As a result, fans expressed their dissatisfaction of Mike Brown’s coaching style on Facebook and various message boards.
Fans are passionate beings, and their reactions are, at times, irrational.
Twenty games isn’t enough to assess a coach’s success, especially in a condensed season with limited practices.
Clearly, the negativity surrounding Mike Brown’s coaching style has evaporated, considering how well the Lakers are doing now.
In mid-February Metta World Peace expressed his frustrations regarding his playing time.
He believed Mike Brown was looking at stats, rather than realizing World Peace’s defensive prowess.
The tension between World Peace and Brown caused a commotion.
However, World Peace and Brown discussed the matter, and there haven’t been problems since then.
In the first half of the season, trade rumors surrounding Pau Gasol increased.
This caused Bryant to say this about management:
“I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him. It’s just tough for a player to give his all when you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow. I’d rather them not trade him at all, but if they’re going to do something, I wish they would just … do it.”
After Bryant made his comments, some believed that his statements were detrimental to the team and Gasol.
While it can be reasonably believed Bryant’s comments hurt the team, one has to understand that Bryant has the right to voice his opinion, especially because he has contributed so much to the Lakers franchise.
Near the end of a heated, back-and-forth All-Star game, Dwyane Wade fouled Kobe Bryant, causing a concussion and a broken nose.
Immediately, many criticized Wade, and questioned whether he was a dirty player.
Clearly, the scrutiny was overblown because Wade didn’t have foul intentions.
Even Bryant realized this:
"It was very simple. He didn't mean to do it. He's not that kind of person. He's a nicer guy than I am."
When Andrew Bynum agreed that the Lakers’ late-game offense was a problem because it was too predictable, many believed that it could lead to some issues in the locker room.
In addition, many believed the comments reflected poorly on Bynum.
Bynum’s comments were clearly taken out of proportion because he was right.
While Bryant is one of the best closers in the game, teams know that he’s always going to get the ball at the end of the game.
That’s why it’s important that the Lakers utilize the numerous offensive options they have, so teams don’t know what’s coming.
Near the end of a close game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Mike Brown decided to bench Kobe Bryant.
After the Lakers lost, Bryant expressed his discontent but refused to make a big deal out of the situation.
Instead he expressed support for Brown, stating that it was Brown’s “decision to make.”
However, some decided to exaggerate the situation, and wondered whether the benching was a start of Lakers controversy.
Clearly, the entire situation was overblown.
While Brown’s benching of Bryant was questionable, Bryant had already played a lot of minutes in the game—he needed the rest.
Andrew Bynum’s immaturity was highlighted this year.
Cursing on live television, getting ejected for trash talk, shooting three-pointers, taking possessions off and sitting on the bench during huddles were just a few examples of Bynum’s childishness.
As a result of his antics, Bynum was fined by the Lakers.
While Bynum needs to mature and become more selfless, the coverage surrounding Bynum was a bit excessive, considering Bynum has been outstanding as of late—averaging 22 PPG 16.6 RPG and no three-point attempts.
Also, Bynum and Mike Brown have "defined their terms," which is a good sign.