Kobe Bryant, Dr. Jerry Buss, Vanessa Bryant
THE VECCHIO FACTOR SAYS...
Having had the pleasure of knowing you down through the years, I know how competitive your juices flow. For this reason, I can't imagine you're very happy with the way your Laker team is playing this year.
You're the greatest owner any sport has ever had, and it's because you've always had the smarts, and the luck of the draw, to make the right moves to keep your LA Laker franchise at the top of the NBA heap.
However, as things now stand, if you think this year's Laker edition can win another title playing like it is, you better think again.
I KNOW you're probably very pissed about getting beat so badly, so often, by arguably inferior teams, but without panicking, could it be that you need to do something to shake up this team?
After all, what defending NBA champion, that you can remember, keeps getting shellacked, and embarrassed by sub-.500 teams?
I can see losing, but getting consistently blown out by bad to mediocre teams tells me that something must be radically wrong within the Laker locker room.
Another serious concern of yours has to be the losses (18) that are mounting up. You know this is a HUGE issue because without home court advantage your Lakers could have a serious problem come playoff time.,
Who Will Win The 2011 NBA Championship?
Without the home court advantage in the Finals against Boston last year, most believe you don't win the NBA title.
Looking at the make-up of this team, the fact is, you don't have ONE, dependable, perimeter shooter that you can count on to hit the outside shot, and keep the defenses honest.
Sure, Matt Barnes will help when he returns, but the inability to knock down shots from the perimeter is definitely hurting your team.
As an example, the Laker perimeter shooters shot 5 for 35 from the three point line against Orlando and Charlotte. That's a shooting percentage of 14 percent!
Without an outside threat, teams pack the paint, which reduces the effectiveness of your size and length advantage inside.
More importantly, it seems your Lakers don't know what they are, offensively. With the size and length advantage inside, you would think they would play a disciplined "inside-out" game, every game.
But here again, you need accurate perimeter shooters to keep defenses "honest," which makes an "inside-out" system work.
Truth is, with Kobe, you don't get consistency offensively, since his career-long habit is to isolate and create his own shot, at the expense of the Triangle Offense, while the rest of the starters stand around watching him do his "one on one" act.
You say it's hard to complain since you've been to the NBA Finals the last three years, winning twice.
I say, knowing how you feel, to expect anything less than another NBA championship from your team would be considered unacceptable, and a failure.
Didn't you say before the season started that you thought this Laker team could be your best ever?
So, as things now stand, what can you do to improve your Lakers' chances of three-peating?
Talk has centered around a Bynum for Carmelo deal. From what I know, Carmelo Anthony is a knucklehead, but so was Dennis Rodman and Chicago won three times with him.
Of course, the Bulls had Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen to monitor Rodman's behavior.
With your team, it's ALL about Kobe, and his "alpha male" status is not about to be challenged by his team mates..
This timidity from his team mates is where I believe the root of your Laker team's troubles lie. Players are playing tight, NOT free and easy and up to their capabilities, i.e., they don't seem to be having fun playing the game of basketball.
It seems this year, more than others, all the starters have been subjected to and affected by Bryant's individualism, deferring too much to him, and not playing their own game, all of which produces an uninspired, listless, stagnant offense.
Here's the solution, Jerry. Kobe needs to be challenged by PJ and/or his team mates, or someone you bring in who is considered to be in the "superstar" category, someone Bryant can respect to share the ball, and play within the team concept!
Let's face it, last year, luck played a big role in being able to win the NBA Championship.
Last-second shots against Oklahoma City and Phoenix in the Western Conference playoffs contributed to critical series wins, some say lucky wins.
And certainly, having home court advantage in the NBA Finals against Boston, as well as Kendrick Perkins going down to injury in the sixth game, proved to be the deciding factors in winning the NBA crown.
Unfortunately, Dr. B, it seems that this year the dice is not shaking out the way it did last year.
In poker terms, which you know well, it seems you're playing with a similar, almost "pat hand," you played with last year, but the reality is the league has changed to the point where other teams, such as Boston, Dallas, Miami, and Chicago, have stacked their rosters to challenge Laker supremacy.
Additionally, you "gifted" Derek Fisher with a three-year, $10 million contract, when in fact, he should have retired.
What the Fisher signing meant was that (since Magic) you still lacked a quick, athletic, point guard that could penetrate the lane, and either kick out to perimeter shooters or dish off to "bigs" for easy buckets.
Since, up until now, the Lakers are NOT consistently using their size and length inside (15 total shots from Laker "bigs" against Charlotte Monday night), why not trade Bynum and get a legit, 24.7 PPG career scorer like Carmelo, who can provide another serious scoring presence (outside and post up), and take the pressure off No. 24?
Perhaps, you can even get Denver's back-up point guard, Ty Lawson, included in the deal by throwing in Shannon Brown, and either Ebanks or Carracter.
I'm sure you're well aware that the trend in the NBA today favors youth, athleticism, and multiple stars.
Unfortunately, this Laker team is short on all three.
In conclusion Jerry, your Los Angeles Laker teams have always had "star power." But, with Kobe Bryant winding down his career, isn't it time to re-stock, re-tool, and begin the process of bringing in other star players to continue your formula of providing "superstar" players, that not only perform highly on the court, but in true Hollywood fashion, highly entertain your devoted LA fans?
THE VECCHIO FACTOR