Yeah, I do agree.
If I had suggested it though, Lakers’ fans would be all over me. But since Jerry West said it, I thought it would be a good idea to see how many of you agree or disagree and why.
In an article on ESPNLosAngeles.com, Jerry West, the former general manager of the Lakers, was quoted as saying that the current version of the Lakers “has problems clamping down on defense.”
West was speaking at a luncheon in Orange County last week, where he mentioned that the Lakers are “getting long in the tooth.”
That’s another way of saying that their age is catching up with them. He pointed out that 10 of the players are 30 or over.
West wondered, "If there's a loose ball now, how often do they get to it? The reason you can't play defense is because you can't.”
Head coach Phil Jackson did not disagree with the statement. But he thinks the problem has to do with controlling the tempo of the game.
That is coach-speak for "they need to slow the game down because they’re getting too old to run up and down the court."
Although in past articles I have not specifically mentioned the age factor, I did write that both Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant have had trouble chasing after shooters on the perimeter.
Let’s face it, Fisher is 36 and Bryant is 34. Also, Bryant has had five surgeries on the same knee. That is bound to catch up to him sooner rather than later.
Bryant, himself, discussed the different makeup of the team this year compared to last year.
“Last year, you had Jordan [Farmar] and Sasha [Vujacic] in the second unit running around like jackrabbits,” Bryant said. “That was their big strength, their ability to get out on the open floor. This team, we slow things down a little bit more.”
So the Lakers replaced Farmar and Vujacic with slightly older and less active Steve Blake and Matt Barnes, who has undergone ligament surgery.
But I will go one better. The year before the Lakers let Trevor Ariza slip away and replaced him with a much older Ron Artest. That finally worked out at the end of the playoffs, but before that, it looked like a mistake.
Now, Artest is a year older and has possibly lost a step or two on defense. Is is time for Mitch Kupchak to start shopping around and bring in someone younger?
In any case, what do you, the fans, think?
Is Jerry West correct? Does the Lakers’ age prevent them from consistently clamping down on defense? Will it prevent them from repeating once again as NBA Champions?
As you know, offense is great, but it’s defense that wins championships.