This is an open-letter to Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. It is written by an unapologetic, lifelong Lakers fan who is basking in the glory of his team recently winning the NBA Championship, and signing free agent Ron Artest.
Dear Dr. Buss,
Last week it was reported that you angrily pulled your team's three-year, $27 million offer to free agent Lamar Odom because he did not respond to the offer in time—even though Odom's camp claims there was no deadline to respond. Yes, it was a very solid offer, and clearly the best one Odom can be offered. But Dr. Buss, do all of Lakerland a favor—stay out of your team's "cheese."
What has helped make the Lakers one of the most successful franchises in all of sports is your willingness to stay out of management. Your track record does also prove, however, that when you do step in, things go bad—quickly.
You stepped in after the infamous season where the Lakers were beaten by the Pistons, clearly creating an enormous gap between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. What you could have done instead, as team owner, is sit both players down together, tell them to shut their damn mouths, and go out and win three or four more titles.
Instead, you decided to trade Shaq, let Kobe take all the blame for him leaving, and then creep back up to your owner's box. Then Mitch Kupchak gets blasted and blasted by Kobe, and you say nothing, except that you would listen to all offers for Kobe. WHAT?!?!?!
Thankfully you went back to your box, and let it be.
Then, your Lakers were handed Pau Gasol gift-wrapped, and made a triumphant return back to the top of the Western Conference—one season later you stand as NBA World Champions.
Very few things were constant during all the turbulence between Shaq leaving and the Lakers winning: Kobe, Phil Jackson (less one season during the Rudy experiment), Mitch Kupchak, you, and guess who: Lamar Odom (who came to L.A. from Miami in the Shaq trade).
Lamar did what his team asked of him this past season: he came off the bench, and morphed himself into the league's ultimate super-sub. Lamar creates the league's ultimate mismatch any given night—a 6'10" power-forward who can rebound, and run the break.
Dr. Buss, imagine a starting five of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant, and Derek Fisher. Then Phil Jackson can bring Lamar off the bench, having Andrew, Pau, Lamar, Ron, and Kobe on the floor?!?
Defensively, the Lakers could become one of the league's top defenses on length alone. But no, you're worried because Lamar had not yet decided whether or not to accept.
Now Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade is openly vying for Lamar. Yes, your team can offer the most money, but Florida offers no state tax. We all know how Governor Schwarzenegger is managing the state budget—by raising taxes. Yet Lamar has maintained that he wishes to stay with the purple-and-gold.
This is a man who wants to win; not to mention that his best friend is now a member of the team, Ron Artest.
So, in closing, Mr. Buss, I offer this plea: go back up to your owner's box, sign the checks, and let Mitch Kupchak bring Lamar back. Whether you believe it or not, he is the X-Factor to your team, to our team, repeating as NBA champions this upcoming season.