L.A. Lakers: 5 Ways Lakers' Ownership Alienates Players and Coaches
The franchise has had the privilege of calling themselves world champions 16 times in its history.
In addition, numerous current and future Hall of Fame players such as Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant have all worn the honorable Purple and Gold Lakers jersey.
Although it seems that the Lakers organization has been nothing short of glorious, the franchise definitely has a dark side.
Throughout Lakers history, there have been ways in which the organization has treated both its players and coaches disrespectfully.
The recent hiring of Mike Brown displays just one way the Los Angeles Lakers alienate their players and coaches, and there are many more.
Lack of Communication
The most obvious way the Los Angeles Lakers organization alienates their players and coaches is through their lack of communication.
The most recent example of their failure to communicate was the franchise’s hiring of Mike Brown.
First off, the organization didn’t speak with Kobe Bryant, their franchise player, about the decision at all. In addition, Brian Shaw, the assistant who Bryant wanted to be the new head coach, wasn't spoken to during the hiring process and he didn’t find out about the decision until he saw it on television.
Bryant, who has brought five championships to the organization, and Shaw, a hard working assistant, deserve to be treated much better than that.
The Lakers need to communicate with players and coaches in the future to avoid the mess that they created this offseason.
They need to understand that the success of their organization also hinges on the satisfaction of their personnel.
Trades and Signings
After Shaquille O’Neal left L.A. in the summer of 2004, the Lakers were stuck with only one superstar, Kobe Bryant.
The next couple of seasons were disastrous. Bryant didn’t trust his supporting cast at all. I don’t blame him; his point guard was Smush Parker.
Lakers management failed to trade or sign any quality players during the time period and when they did, they were not efficient. They traded their second best player, Caron Butler, as well as Chucky Atkins for Kwame Brown, which was disastrous.
After a couple of years, running the team into the ground, the Lakers almost lost their best player as Kobe Bryant, who requested to be traded in 2007, due to the fact that he felt very isolated.
Although Jerry Buss has spent a lot of money to create great teams over the years, his plans have backfired.
By taking on players with hefty contracts, Buss has put the Lakers in a financial mess. Recently, the Lakers organization was taxed $20 million by the NBA.
Ultimately, this could cause problems between Lakers players and coaches.
As a result of their financial problems, the franchise will possibly have trouble signing young free agents to replace some of the old players on the team.
Without young energy, the Lakers can decline, causing issues between coaches and players due to the immense pressure.
This form of alienation seems inevitable, however.
If the Lakers want to continue to be great, they have to sign players to large contracts, even if it risks the stability of players and coaches.
One of the most infamous feuds in NBA history involved two Lakers superstars, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
The Lakers organization made it worse.
The Lakers made it clear that they were leaning toward keeping Kobe Bryant instead of Shaquille O’Neal.
They allowed Phil Jackson to walk away and GM Mitch Kupchak desired to trade O’Neal rather than allow Bryant to leave. In addition, Jerry Buss longed to transition into a Showtime offense, which clearly complemented Bryant and not Shaq.
In the end, the feud between Kobe and Shaq was mishandled and it seemed O’Neal and Jackson felt unwanted because of the franchise’s actions.
Disrespecting Former Players
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for the Lakers for 14 seasons, winning five NBA championships.
Undoubtedly, Abdul-Jabbar is one of the greatest Lakers of all time. However, it seems that the Lakers have not recognized that.
While statues of athletes such as Wayne Gretzky and Oscar De La Hoya are present outside of Staples Center, one will not find a statue of Abdul-Jabbar.
Abdul-Jabbar recently stated that he felt “slighted” for not having statue in his honor, and I don’t really blame him.
Although the situation may have been overblown, there is no doubt that Abdul-Jabbar deserved a statue before athletes like Gretzky and De La Hoya.
In order to eliminate resentment from players, the Lakers organization must appreciate them as much as is deserved.