Jeff Weiss is a writer and Lakers fan from Los Angeles. He runs Passion of the Weiss and several well-trafficked Elden Campbell fansites.

I’ve spent the last two years hating the Heat and now I should loathe the Lakers. The only problem is that I absolutely love the Lakers.

I have loved the Lakers since Chick Hearn called the jello jiggly, since Fletch made through the legs lay-ups, since Magic Johnson’s mythological forum club orgies with the Laker girls, Arsenio, and Eddie Murphy. I have suffered through the Smush Parker and Sedale Threatt eras and rejoiced while doing the Madsen mash.  I have never subscribed to the theory of liberated fandom because no Lakers fan has ever subscribed to the theory of liberated fandom. You don’t need to abandon your squad for the first pretty fast break when all you do is win.

If the Miami Heat weren’t obviously the DJ Khaled of NBA franchises (obnoxious, garish and propelled by a deal with the devil), the Lakers would be the next logical candidate. Their acquisition of Dwight Howard was less surprise than eventuality. Los Angeles is more gravitational vortex than metropolis — should you possess any trace of narcissism, you will wind up with a studio apartment in Studio City faster than you can say Vivid Video. But All-NBA centers are built to buck the odds. They carry girls on shoulders at the Playboy mansion and star in straight-to-DVD films. On closer inspection, things may be closer than they appear.

I admire achievement, but I am not obligated to applaud success. Achievement is the exceeding of expectations. But even if the Lakers sweep the playoffs, it will feel as though they obtained the Larry O’Brien trophy through an NBA Live cheat code. It is plastic surgery, a two-year fix before they have to re-up for some rare German silicone (Kobe can help). It feels like they’re the NBA equivalent of kids who played “Duck Hunt” with the gun three inches from the screen.

Of course, the Lakers have played this game before. Jerry Buss has spent half of his life at well drink casinos in Gardena. He understands the emotional politics of poker and the power of leverage. The Magic never will. No one ever believes them when they’re bluffing. Nor can I mourn for Orlando. Had they not tried to dump Jason Richardson’s contract, there’s a reasonable chance they could’ve acquired Pau Gasol and Bynum. Instead, the franchise revealed the depth of its abandonment issues. They freaked out that Bynum would bail just like the last hot guy and the one before that and got stuck with a few protected draft picks and some hot cheetos and takis.

Can you really blame Dwight Howard? The Lakers have Jack Nicholson sitting front row, championship banners on the ceiling, and hundreds of producers in the audience desperate to hang out with replacement Shaq. The cleverest thing he ever did was lie about not wanting to come here. He saw what happened to LeBron and relied on the virtues of mixed messages. The guy had been rehabbing in town all summer, is maybe dating Ciara, and is roughly 15 minutes ago from making his film debut as a rapping vampire. Not to mention, this is his best chance to win a championship. The only cool thing Dwight Howard got to do in Orlando was bring his butter beer on the Harry Potter ride.

You can easily make the case that this is good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City. Ratings and narrative complexity will rise. The NBA has the most legitimately great teams since the early 90s, when the Bad Boys, Bulls, Trail Blazers, and Lakers all were at or near their apex. The 76ers and Nuggets are improved. Even spurned Cavaliers fans can celebrate that King James might be checked.

So why do I feel like I’m rooting for Mr. Burns Buss to block the sun? The Lakers have snatched another team’s superstar center four times over the last 45 years — five if you count Pau Gasol — and the Howard deal may have been the closest thing to equal value. You can’t exactly blame this on a collective violation of the social compact either. After all, Kareem demanded to spend about 52 weeks on Venice Beach 40 years ago. In any free market, the exceptionally skilled deserve right to dictate where they want to live. No one ever wrote an essay about an investment banker’s traitorous decision to flee Cleveland for South Beach.

But there is something fatalistic about the Lakers landing Dwight Howard. It makes me feel like the game is rigged and I am in cahoots with those rigging the game. And no one wants to be in cahoots. It’s one of the worst hoots possible. What’s weirdest is the numb actuality that everyone knows the fix is in and no one knows how or really wants to unfix it. We worship success and the Lakers are the most consistent franchise in the history of professional sports. They are the city’s public trust, the dynastic undead.

With the NBA, we have agreed to suspend our sense of willful disbelief. Superstars can and will stack teams until a collective bargaining agreement redresses it. Forget the purity of sport. The Olympics are over. No one will ever demand a trade to Utah. It is the 1 percent logic applied to athletics. Your team will lose and you are told that it’s the culture that makes the difference. We all secretly want to believe that the ping pong balls will bounce our way, and the success of small market Oklahoma City provides enough of glimmer for people to say, “SEE!”

David Stern’s veto of the Chris Paul trade was a panic move, hastily made in the uncertain aftermath of the lockout. Who believes that the commissioner doesn’t want the league’s most glamorous franchise to make a deep playoff run every year? He’s already doing the Birdman hand rub at the thought of the Christmas Day schedule. Plus, no other sport has managed to turn the offseason into pure spectacle. Every summer, the media feasts on rumors and hearsay surrounding the trade demands of this year’s “alienated” superstar. This is pure capitalistic achievement. The lights never have to go off. The factory is always clanking. You’re probably as guilty as me — dying for the season to start and scrounging blogs for signings and half-baked speculation.

The trade may even out the balance of power, but it simultaneously tests my faith. Only religion is more irrational than sports, and both are vessels for our ideas about the ideal. Each theoretically comes with its own social contract, one at odds with the crass inequities of day-to-day existence. We violated it a long time ago and this makes me remember. It’s the jackpot at the loaded slot. As a fan, all I had ever hoped for was to be surprised.

Go Lakers. I guess.

Comments (67)

  1. oof… my favorite music writer on my favorite sports site, that’s a golden monday! is that a favor for that awesome hot cheetos and takis write-up on potw? keep up the good work guys

    • Jeff and I have been bros for a while now. Any time I need some Lakers fan thoughts, he’s my go-to. Love having his words here.

      • yep, read you a few times over at potw but good to see jeff’s words here indeed. it’s a great piece as well. Reminded me of some of free darko’s old posts, style-wise.

      • You can find hundreds of more knowledgeable Laker fans at lakersground.net than this undercover Clipper fan.

  2. Great piece. Still makes me wince to hear you define “suffering” as making it through the Smush Parker and Sedalle Threat “eras”, but despite that, you get it. First time I’ve ever witnessed a Laker fan exhibiting self-awareness.

    • EXACTLY. Almost stopped reading after this… almost. I guess it’s all relative.

    • He does not get it. A Laker fan saying “Go Lakers. I guess.” after the offseason they just had is a disgrace.

    • A Laker fan does not know suffering… hilarious thought though. I’m not trying to hate here, but the passage that reads “What’s weirdest is the numb actuality that everyone knows the fix is in and no one knows how or really wants to unfix it” seems ludicrous unless you’re only referring to Laker fans that can let go of any moral inhibitions for the sake of winning… I’d say most every fan I’ve ever met that’s not rooting for the Lakers would call malarkey on that. The truth is in the last paragraph… that being a sports fan has a social contract attached to it; Laker fans seem to be okay with letting go of any moral high ground to be counted among the winners when they sign the contract to re-up with the purple and gold each year… the sad part is our society seems to love the “winning at all costs mentality” the Lakers thrive on… sorry, but I can’t say “Go Lakers, I guess. Count me as someone who signed a different social contract as a sports fan for ethical reasons.

  3. Sent this to my twin brother, who is a life-long Laker fan, for some reason.

    #TBJ just keeps getting better. thanks for the post.

  4. Frustratingly true.

    I really did love that he addressed the ridiculous idea that it is just as easy to succeed as a small-market team. The Jazz have been a really well run team for so long but good management and smart spending can only do so much for a team seemingly.

    All of these teams that have recently been trying to implement the “OKC” model of building a franchise have just been driving me nuts. They don’t seem to be aware of just how unlikely their success was. Or perhaps they do, they just believe that is the only real way for a team in their situation to build a contender. Sadly, they may be right in that too.

    • The OKC model reminds me of Steve Martin’s How to Be a Millionaire and not Pay Taxes. “First, get a million dollars…”

  5. Interesting point of view. Not sure I subscribe, though. Different teams build their roster in different ways. Some have the “misfortune” of being terribly awful season-in and season-out, so in turn, they’re privileged with very promising Top 10 draft picks like OKC. Some, like San Antonio, are able to scout well with higher draft picks and make smaller, under-the-radar trades. Others, like NY and Miami, wait for seasons to acquire enough cap space to land a big name(s). It seems like the Lakers have the innate ability to convince other teams [and the deep pockets, luxury tax-wise] to make favorable trades happen time and time again. Ultimately, the players still have a HUGE say in where they go, whether it be city preference, $ amount, proximity to family, championship contender, etc.

    The Lakers made it happen by getting Nash, and then Howard separately. Then, they built a decent bench around them with Jamison & Meeks. I wouldn’t be so ungrateful as to disavow my allegiance to a team that jumped through the hoops to put a team like that together. Great teams find a way to remain great. Jeff almost comes off as a “fairweather fan” but in the opposite sense.

    Ashamed, I guess.

    • The Lakers can afford to pay the luxury tax every year because of their lucrative TV contracts. It is why the Angels could afford to sign Pujols. It’s why the Lake show doesn’t mind paying a Nash-Kobe-MWP-Pau-Dwight starting line-up. The TV money keeps it all in the black.

      True, the players have the RIGHT to choose where they play. And I don’t blame them for choosing LA. Who wouldn’t? But the luxury tax is supposed to be the checks-and-balance system that prevents teams from building unfair super teams. The Lakers are supposed to say “Gee, I’m glad everyone wants to play for us, but because of these checks-and-balances, we simply can’t afford it!” But the system does a lousy job of enforcing parity because the TV money still makes it profitable to scoff at the tax. Don’t hate the Lakers. Don’t hate the players. Hate the CBA.

      • True. Can’t argue with that. The Buss family is set for a really long time with that Time Warner deal.

        With respect to your mention of the new CBA, the Howard trade makes you realize how big of waste last year’s lockout was, doesn’t it?

        • I had realized last year’s lockout was a waste before they reached an agreement to end the lockout. The Howard trade just underscores the uselessness of it. Well, I should say the Howard trade underscores the Brook Lopez signing, which underscores the Gerald Wallace signing, which underscores every small market team that still has to believe in the OKC-tank-to-win strategy which was supposedly fixed by the new CBA. Underscores on underscores on underscores.

        • I can argue with that. Its almost impossible to add players once ur over the tax line. We traded a max contract center for a different max contract center. We added a minimum salary player n a mini mid level player. Without the howard trade we woulda had the same salary figure.

          • Dwight will make 3.5 million more dollars than Andrew Bynum this year. But I guess that’s chump change to Lakers fans.

            Apparently “almost impossible” isn’t nearly hard enough.

    • to say different teams build rosters in different ways is rather misleading, because it assumes every team can choose from the same set of equally valid and feasible models to implement when building a team. do you really think teams like san antonio say “we don’t want to be like the lakers; we would rather build the roster in an extremely conservative manner and rely on hidden gems rather than allowing other teams to make our lives easier by gift-wrapping superstars us”? do you think the zombie sonics would have tanked for 3 years if it were feasible for them to just do what the lakers do and nab superstars for 5 cents on the dollar? do you really think utah would run their team in the the same manner if they didn’t have to overpay free agents, or if stars regularly demanded trades to SLC (and in the process intentionally killed their team’s leverage and ability to get fair value)?

      • Well, I never really suggested it was an even playing field. Big market teams have major advantages over the small market team. That’s a given. All I’m saying is that each organization does what it can with the resources that it has.

        When Dallas, a big market team, won the championship in 2011, they chose the path of saving up for cap space for the supposed Summer of Dwight Howard & Deron Williams. They gambled by letting Chandler go and lost. They even lost Kidd & Terry this year after being ousted by OKC, but that may have been inevitable. Dallas obviously will still have that same cap space to now pursue Chris Paul & Dwight Howard again at the conclusion of this season, but it’s because they chose to go that route. You don’t think Cuban wouldn’t go out and start making splashy trades for big names again like he did when he first brought Kidd, Terry, Shawn Marion, Caron Butler, etc. into the mix once he realizes Dirk’s window is nearly closed and Howard and CP3 spurn them for their respective LA teams?

        The Lakers are still confined to the same rules & limitations that are mandated by the CBA, but like Scott Danger mentioned, they found a way around it and acquired a plentiful resource in their large TV contract. Buss (and Mitch) got creative in how the Lakers would acquire & pay players. I can commend them for that. We’ll see if it ultimately pays off in the form of the Larry O’Brien, but they now have a championship-caliber “super team” to show for the decisions they made.

  6. Good post. Although it was not the writer’s intention, this made me see a little red:

    “You can easily make the case that this is good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City. Ratings and narrative complexity will rise. The NBA has the most legitimately great teams since the early 90s, when the Bad Boys, Bulls, Trail Blazers, and Lakers all were at or near their apex. The 76ers and Nuggets are improved. Even spurned Cavaliers fans can celebrate that King James might be checked.”

    This is how big market teams rationalize their fandom. Stacking the odds is not “good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City.” Liberated fandom or not, nobody wants to see another half-decade of Laker dominance served on a silver-platter. This isn’t good for NBA fans in small markets. It’s the kind of thing that makes them think about cheering for sports that at least pretend that parity exists. Let’s just read that sentence as many times as it takes for the ridiculous suggestion to sink in that the rich getting richer is good for the poor because the poor really like watching the rich:

    “You can easily make the case that this is good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City.”

    “You can easily make the case that this is good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City.”

    “You can easily make the case that this is good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City.”

    “You can easily make the case that this is good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City.”

    “You can easily make the case that this is good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City.”

    “You can easily make the case that this is good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City.”

    Laker fans … I tell ya. Even their attempts to be self-aware exhibit assumptions of superiority.

  7. The writer assumes that most people outside of LA actually LIKE the Lakers. This is simply untrue. As far as I’m concerned, I hate everything about the Lakers. I hate their stupid face. I hate that they somehow manage to game the system every couple of years and pull a coup despite having mostly subpar management/ideas. I hate that Lakers fans are so fair weather and incompetent as to think that somehow every legitimate fan (even Bobcats fans) enjoy the Lakers being good. As a New Yorker, I can tell you. We don’t give a crap about Dwight and Kobe. That team is so overly vaunted it’s ridiculous. Good luck with Dwight being 100%, Kobe accepting a reduced role, and Nash guarding anyone competently.

    “Beat LA” has become an axiom for a reason. No one likes those purple/gold narcissists. We hate their guts and want them to die many many basketball related deaths. I rejoiced when OKC beat them and I will rejoice when they under-perform this year and lose in the playoffs to any number of more amusing/talented/Non-Laker teams.

    I hate to say it…but….
    Let’s get some Goddamn Raptor News

    • >>> As a New Yorker, I can tell you. We don’t give a crap about Dwight and Kobe. That team is so overly vaunted it’s ridiculous.

      This is some kind of super-subtle satire, right? We always talk about the Lakers because the Lakers have won 5 titles in the past dozen years. What’s ridiculous is how much we’re forced to talk about the Knicks. They won 2 titles, 40 years ago. That’s it. But they’re New York’s team, which is apparently a really big deal. If they took the evening train and moved the franchise to Stamford, we’d treat them like any other perennial low-seeded, first-round-exit team.

      • BRAVO. i never understood why the knicks were an elite team. i’m 36 years old. i’ve never seen them win a title. the closest i’ve ever seen them win one was in a) an asterisked shortened season, and b) a season after jordan suddenly retired. and they couldn’t do it either time

    • wow u must b a heat fan I think everyone here need to realize heat stacked there team first wit young playyers who plan on winnin da nxt 6 years straight n could easily happen to if teams decide to just sit n watch la has been gettn real bad over tha past two seasons with da west getting better every year with a player as talented as kobe the team doesnt wanna be in position to just lose n barrely compete in da playoffs okc proved they cant beat heat so now la will b da team to test them f they mak it that far n if not heat will win again n again but I guess that’s how the nba works make sure the chosen players r always fighting for a ring n forget da rest

  8. As a Magic fan, I love the trade. We had to get rid of the big ego man who still acts like a kid (enjoy that Laker fans) and what we got was perfect.

    Lots of youth, draft picks (although they’re not the greatest) and a whole bunch of cap space.

    The problem with the trade was that Dwight gave the Magic no other options and had to work with LA or the Nets. I think it’s going to be worse for him, because he won’t realize how many more sportwriters are going to get on him for not growing up. But that’s the Lakers problem and Magic fans are glad to be moving on.

    • You can’t honestly be serious. Of course you’re happy he’s gone, but you knew he was going to be gone either way. As far as the haul that your team got in return, do you really believe that “what you got was perfect”? I just can’t believe that.

      For reference, look at any trade where a major star was moved at the end of a contract. Look at what the other team got in return. (Use Carmelo and Denver if you can’t think of an example.)

      Now compare what Denver got to what you got. You could’ve had something like that. (from Brooklyn or Houston). Still think what you got was perfect? Or is it possible that, as every NBA analyst and fan agrees, this was the worst outcome for Orlando of any of the possible trade packages?

      • Another Magic fan here – While I wouldn’t go as far as saying we got a great deal, there is more to the trade than meets the eye.

        Otis Smith acquired/offered some TERRIBLE contracts in his last couple of years, and it has made for some dreadful basketball at times. Anyone who has followed the team closely will acknowledge that even with Dwight Howard, we were horribly unathletic and never really a genuine contender in the East. That team was going nowhere, and in Dwight’s departure there needed to be some kind of clearout, which is exactly what has happened.

        We now have flexibility and leverage. If we got Pau/Bynum we’d be no better off than the stagnant team that surrounded Dwight.

        I hate the Denver/Carmelo comparison. They didn’t have as many horrible contracts to offload, and they already had some talent to build around.

        • I think Orlando’s intentions with the trade are clear. Of all the trades offered, this is the one that makes them as bad as possible, as quickly as possible. It’s debatable whether tanking is really the quickest/most efficient way to get good again, but I think this trade tipped the Orlando front office’s hand: They think so.

  9. Terrible post. This guy is a hack trying desperately hard to be witty.

    • Here’s what was extremely witty:

      “several well-trafficked Elden Campbell fansites”

      “Jerry Buss has spent half his life at well drink casinos in Gardena”

      “is roughly 15 minutes ago from making his film debut as a rapping vampire”

      “dying for the season to start and scrouging blogs for signings and half-baked speculation” – because it’s true.

      As a Laker fan, I agree with the sentiment expressed, but I don’t see the team winning the championship in this incarnation, so it might all be a moot point.

      • Yawn. I’ve heard more witty and funny things uttered by the Situation from jersey shore.

        If you’re a Laker fan and aren’t excited about this team’s very real shot at dominating this season, you’re cheering for the wrong team.

  10. The Lakers leverage their lucrative TV contracts and attractions of living in Southern California very well but that is not the same as a fix which implies cheating or some sort of conspiracy on the part of the NBA. The Knicks are just as wealthy and have similar brand opportunities for players like Los Angeles but are run by some of the worst executives and owners in Sports. Management and Ownership make a difference. Its also worth pointing out that the the common denominator to all 5 recent championships was a player that was drafted 14th by the Lakers. Hardly a fix, just superior talent assessment by Jerry West. The Lakers have a big edge over most teams, but you still need quality executives and capable owners to create the right opportunities.

  11. This “writer” would fit right in with the hacks at latimes, Bill Plaschke and TJ Simers. Three big Laker fans right there. Give me a break.

  12. Let’s just start with the assumption that everything is supposed to be “fair”. I’m sorry, it’s not reality. There is no way to promote Minnesota to a media metropolis, and if it weren’t the LA Lakers it would be the LA Bulls, or the LA Jazz, etc.

    Teams play in big markets. Those teams have advantages. For a business like the NBA to succeed they need those big markets to do well. The Laker front office has made incredible moves over the past 20 years. No one forces a trade, it’s like condemning a great poker player (er, Buss in Gardena) for making good moves.

    OKC and San Antonio are in the blueprint for smaller markets. Their respective front offices have done incredibly well. If you don’t have the additional media resources available you need to be shrewd in other ways.

    Mitch Kupchak is nothing short of a miracle worker. To unload the Walton contract and pickup Nash & Howard w/in 6 months is incredible. If you’re frustrated with the Lakers and their business savvy, you should be just as frustrated with the other NBA teams that make those trades to them.

    • I agree with a lot of these sentiments. It isn’t enough to just be a huge market. If it were, the Knicks would be in the Finals against the Lakers every year. There must be competent handling from the front office. But nothing short of a miracle worker? The degree of difficulty is much lower for Mitch Kuphack than small market GMs. Let’s not forget that. It’s like playing golf with a handicap.

      I wonder what your explanation is for leagues like the NFL and MLB where there are still lucrative big-market teams and yet, much more even disruption of championships.

      • I can answer why the “disruption” of championships is larger in the NFL and MLB. First, a simple game of baseball or football can go either way a lot easier than in the NBA. Superstars make it difficult to be beaten when you have the greater talent as they have more of an effect on the game. Even a QB has to sit down when his team is on defense. Secondly, the playoffs in the NFL and MLB aren’t geared to having the best teams play in the end. They’re geared toward anybody that gets in can win. A team with a more balanced team and 100 wins can lose in the (old) first round to a team with 2 hot starting pitchers in baseball. They play a 1 game playoff after 162 games and then only play a 5 game series. And you’re playing 1 vs 4 not 1 vs 8 so the first round “upset” can happen much easier. And the NFL is just a parity built league and in one game anything can happen, plus the injury issue. It’s a much different playoff system and if the NFL and MLB played 4 rounds of 7 game series with 8 teams then it’d be just like the NBA.

  13. The writer doesn’t understand the real reason why superstars change teams. Most do it for a chance to win championships, be relevant and be comfortable with their teammates:

    LeBron left Cleveland for Miami for a chance to win multiple championships, play with his friends and not have to do everything himself on the court. Miami is a mid market, not a big one. There were reports that Chris Bosh wasn’t willing to go to Cleveland, and when he saw that the only way to form a Big 3 with his friends was going to Miami, he did that.

    Bosh had given indications that he wanted to go to a team where he was relevant. He decided not to for the chance to dominate year after year with Wade and LeBron. Maybe the city of Miami had something to do with it, but Riley’s and Wade’s ring(s) played a part too.

    New York offered Amar’e the most money. They were the only team willing to pay him so much in spite of his injury history. No one can say for sure that he wouldn’t have gone to a small market if they offered as much money and a better chance to win.

    Carmelo does fit the common narrative of a player looking for the bright lights of a big market team. He’s probably the only one among recent star free agents/trade candidates though.

    Deron Williams was traded to the Nets, and while he wasn’t happy in Utah, that had everything to do with Coach Sloan’s style and nothing to do with the city. He’s never been afraid to speak his mind, and when he had issues with Sloan, he talked about them publicly, but he never said anything bad about SLC. He was traded without asking for it(no one has any proof that he did, and no serious reporter ever confirmed it happened), and was treated like a king by his new team. He had as much input on roster moves as any player has ever had. He decided to stay because, unlike the Jazz, the Nets made him feel like he was the single most important person in the organization besides the owner and gave him a very competitive team that includes four possible or former all-stars.

    Chris Paul was on a mediocre team with an unstable ownership situation. Anyone would want out of that kind of team. He asked to be traded, and he wanted to go to a competitive team where he wouldn’t have to do all the work. He never said it had to be a big market team, and I’m pretty sure he’d have stayed on any team with at least one star besides him and a reliable supporting cast.

    Dwight Howard wanted to win a championship. He wanted to do it in Orlando, but they didn’t have a roster capable of doing that. He was childish, selfish, and unfair to Orlando fans, but he clearly wanted to give the team a chance to become a real championship contender. He decided to opt in and give the front office a chance, but they betrayed him by telling SVG about a private meeting with him, and from there it all just kept getting worse.

    Dwight asked to be traded to the Nets or the Mavericks because those were Deron Williams’ top two Free Agency options. He obviously wanted to win a championship while playing with a great pure point guard who would make the game easier for him and make him a bigger part of a team’s offense. When the Nets got Johnson and Dwight realized playing with D-Will wasn’t an option if he wanted to get out of ORL quickly, he decided to put the Lakers on his list. He’d be the best player on the best team in the league, and while he wouldn’t have a big offensive role, he’d get the best possible chance at winning a championship. Sure, he felt comfortable in LA, but ignoring the fact that the Lakers had a ridiculously good roster and saying he went there because it’s a big market and a warm city is just stupid.

    Most stars change teams for reasons other than the city’s market. The whole big-market narrative is lazy and isn’t based on reality.

  14. Also, he fails to see that, while the Lakers are arguably the best team in the league, OKC and Miami are very close to them, and both are very capable of beating them. If anything, he should be disappointed that the NBA became a three-team race(and that’s not exactly true either, as 4 or 5 more teams will have a chance to win if any of the top 3 teams’ stars suffers an injury).

  15. The ‘achievement’ you’re looking for can be found in the accomplishments of Kupchack and the Buss family. That’s what allows the team on the floor to have ‘success’. If you’re inclined to think all this happened just by virtue of team’s proximity to Hollywood and the Beach, which you seem to imply, I’d encourage you to take a look @ the history of the Clippers. Jeez, I can’t stand other Lakers fans.

    • This guy is not a Laker fan. The front office makes great moves to make them title contenders, maybe even favorites, and he is bummed out and feels guilty? Sounds like a Clipper fan in disguise.

  16. What other teams could afford to pay $150 mill in payroll and taxes next year? And somewhere around $200 mil the year after that? The lakers have a huge advantage and it is money. A huge part of what makes their success possible is that they have more money than just about everyone else. I think next to their titles in the record books, instead of an asterix they need to put a dollar sign.

    • Lots of owners have more money than Jerry Buss. All Buss has is the Lakers. A couple off the top of my head that are drastically more wealthy are Mark Cuban and Mikhail Prokhorov. The difference for the Lakers is they have owners and GMs who consistently make smart decisions.

      When Kobe demanded a trade in 2007, not only did they not trade him, they also didn’t panic and trade Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd or trade Bynum and Odom for Jermaine O’Neal. They waited until a good deal was available and then pulled the trigger.

      Jerry West, Mitch Kupchak, Jerry Buss, Jim Buss. Great ownership who make great decisions.

    • >>> The lakers have a huge advantage and it is money. A huge part of what makes their success possible is that they have more money than just about everyone else. I think next to their titles in the record books, instead of an asterix they need to put a dollar sign.

      Good point. We all remember that fateful day when the NBA granted the Lakers–and only the Lakers–a $500 million bonus to give them a permanent advantage over all the other teams.

  17. “Lots of owners have more money than Jerry Buss.”

    Jerry Buss signed a trillion dollar tv deal. The lakers GM historically do make good moves, but a lot of it is just money. Drafting Kobe was a good idea, but paying for Kobe is all about money. He is going to make $27 mill this year and $30 next. That will be about %40 of the salary cap. Almost no teams could even aford Kobe much less Nash ($9 mill) Gasol ($19 mill) Howard ($19 mill) and MWP ($7 mil). And this kind of over the cap spending has been going on for years. It’s one thing to make good moves, it’s another thing to be able to pay for them down the road.

    Sports have rules to create a level playing field. That is a main part of a basic definition of sport. A sport where the rules allow one team to spend twice as much as another is not a sport with an level playing field.

    • Lots of teams have had gigantic payrolls in the past. The Mavs. The Knicks. The difference is their ownership makes stupid basketball decisions, while the Lakers make moves like trading a depressed Lamar Odom for a trade exception, which they turn into Steve Nash.

      Jerry Buss is about winning championships. Lots of other owners only care about making money. This is not the NFL where a single elimination playoff means anyone can spring an upset. If you want to be a contender you have to have ownership and front office that make smart basketball decisions and care about winning.

    • And the Lakers will have the second lowest payroll in the league two years from now when the only two players they’ll have under contract are Howard and Nash. They will be under the cap.

      The Lakers just have superior front office management. Sorry.

      • I said they had a good front office. A good front office plus the ability to outspend everyone for years at a time equals all those finals. Take away the ability to outspend everyone and you are not in the finals so much. My point was that a sport that has rules that lead some teams to spend twice what other teams spend has a flaw.

        And about the lakers payroll in two years being the second lowest. How is that responsive to anything? Are they going to field a team with the 2nd lowest payroll? Are they not going to sign Howard to a contract? Are they going to let Kobe go? Hopefully the new tax and revenue sharing will be painful enough that they will have to cut back some, but I doubt that they will ever less than the highest spending team. Only a hard cap will do that.

        • The 2nd lowest payroll includes a resigned Howard, and Nash on the last year of his deal. Who knows what they’ll do with their cap space, but they won’t be spending anywhere near as much as the 2013-14 roster.

          Kobe will probably take a big paycut to play a couple more years. Artest will be gone. Gasol might be gone. It’s not always about outspending people. Sure, that will be the case this season and next season, but it wasn’t the case when they made the finals in 2008 or when they won the championship in 2009.

          The Lakers have the ability and willingness to spend for a contender. They don’t pay guys like Rashard Lewis and Joe Johnson 20 million a year, however. They only spend for the best. Lots of other owners also have the ability to spend. They just do so in idiotic ways.

          Lastly, If you’re an NBA owner who can’t afford to put a winning team on the floor, then you shouldn’t be an NBA owner.

  18. Wow, Trey. Just wow.

    Great read.

  19. I think Trey perfectly articulated the inner thoughts of someone that is a Lakers fan, but also an NBA fan… You want your team to win. Every year. And Lakers expect to be genuinely competing every year… But, this trade, as much as you love it, just tips the scales to the point in which you can’t help but thinking it’s not quite fair…

    But, in saying that, I think Kupchak is a genius, they have the best run front office management in the NBA, by far. Possibly in all of sports. Always thinking many steps ahead, planning for the next one.

  20. Can’t hate lakers news, but no one needs a lakers fans attempt at a pity party.

  21. yup this guy’s a hypocrite

  22. People have to realize the system works. Super teams are formed because teams panic. Orlando coulda held on to Howard and let him walk at the end of the season. No team in NY, LA, or Miami was gonna have cap space. Melo didn’t force his way to nyc, the nuggets held themselves hostage. One way or another, Melo was gonna end up in NYC cuz the knicks had cap space. Utah paniced and traded a guy that DIDN’T request a trade and wasn’t even eligible for an extension at the time. There’s only 2 teams in LA, 2 in NY, and 1 in Miami. There’s no way the top 30 players in the league can force their way there AND make max money. If KD was a FA next summer guess what? None of those 5 teams woulda have the cap space to sign him

    • Finally someone who makes sense.

      Orlando really shit the bed, not for the trade that they made for Howard, but with the years that they had Howard and made idiotic decisions putting together his supporting cast.

  23. I like reading intelligent, well-thought out comments on basketball commentary. Much of what has been written above qualifies. Two notes: 1) The writer (is it Trey or Jess Weiss?) comes off as a guy who has ‘fan-guilt’ because the odds are stacked unfairly in his team’s favor. Get over it. Basketball and all pro sports are competitive, in the field and in the front office. The Lakers play by the rules and play well. The Knicks are an example of a front office that will NEVER win anything regardless (and in many ways because of) how much James Dolan spends. The advantage of a big city didn’t land LeBron James in New York even though most observers saw it as a foregone conclusion before The Decision. Instead, Miami played the hand it was dealt, played it well, and won. Then people bitched about it. The Clippers have enjoyed the same market advantages as the Lakers for almost 30 years but rest assured The Donald will bring them back to Clipperdom. I predict Paul walks. I would. The majority of complainers above fall under the ‘sports should all be on a level playing field’ mentality – which is sort of analogous to ‘all the kids get soccer trophies for showing up’ and ‘we don’t keep score’ in tee ball mentality. Every sport has rules, again on the field and with regard to contracts, collective bargaining, etc. Those rules do their best to provide as much equitable opportunity for competition as possible. In my mind, they provided too much spreading of the wealth in the recently signed CBA. Competition is a good thing. If San Antonio had all the money in the world to spend, it wouldn’t necessarily make them a better organization or allow them to produce a better product. Limitations create opportunities too. Quit your whining about the Lakers, including the writer who cries that ‘the game is rigged’ – you have a misplaced sense of ‘fairness’. Life isn’t fair. If all sports were ‘fair’, you’d be rooting for a .500 team along with 29 other cities – the ultimate ‘level playing field’. Give me a break. Cheer the competition. Cheer (or curse) your team for their hard work and results. But lose the victim mentality that says because a team played within the rules to its best advantage (as every team does) and consistently does well as a result, that it’s somehow unfair or wrong or “impure”.

    • Everyone read the post above! We are not in Pee-wee league anymore. Stop complaining about your teams being the victims of missing out on blockbuster trades and finding a way to be awful every year. The Lakers have found a way to maximize their team’s value within each cba because they care about winning. If you are so mad about your team being bad and consistently not improving, then why are you rooting for them in the first place? Im not saying you should be a fairweather fan but it would behove you to go out and find the next up and coming team and start rooting for them before everyone else does, like few did for the Thunder 3-4 years ago. Don’t forget that the Lakers, or any other super team, are never gauranteed a championship because of their roster. Stacked teams are great for the NBA, no matter the location because it will draw in more viewers than a non stacked team. This is simply the case because fans love superstars and kids idolize them. No matter how good a team is, they will be tested in the playoffs just as the Heat were by the Celtics. I beg all you self-proclaimed NBA fans to stop complaining about your crappy team remaining crappy, and look for a way to move on to a new team that has a bright future because all you are doing is hurting the NBA.

  24. “It makes me feel like the game is rigged and I am in cahoots with those rigging the game.”

    You make that decision when you decide to be an NBA fan or not: Inherently, the NBA is rigged. Which other sport determines a legal play based on the players name? Baseball doesn’t adjust their strike zones smaller or bigger if the batter or pitcher is a 3 time all-star. NHL doesn’t give 1 minute penalties to 50 goal scorers. Yet, in the NBA fouls are commonly determined by reputation, and this is common knowledge. Until that changes, there’s nothing to really get surprised or let down about.

  25. “Plus, no other sport has managed to turn the offseason into pure spectacle”

    Football > Basketball

    The offseason doesn’t compare. 6 major European leagues, World cups and European Championships that matter.No salary cap and financial transfers

  26. You are a Laker fan. You do not get to say that you *suffered* through the Smush Parker era. Kobe, Lamar Odom and Caron Butler were on that team. You have never known sports suffering and goddammit, you probably never will. I’ve been an NBA fan my whole life, an ardent supporter over the NCAA despite Malice in the Palace, the Heat Index and Ruben Patterson, but let’s face it, the NBA is a joke and David Stern is the punchline.

  27. >>> No one ever wrote an essay about an investment banker’s traitorous decision to flee Cleveland for South Beach.

    1. You jacked that analogy from the most recent Bill Simmons-Malcolm Gladwell collabo.

    2. Either you forgot how it went or you tried to make it “original” on a technicality; in any event, the analogy doesn’t even work–there’s no investment banking in Miami.

  28. If Orlando wasn’t stupid, Lakers would probably have had to trade both Bynum and Gasol away, and LA would have been screwed…

    • Actually, L.A. could have simply done the smart thing and held onto their chips, going into the season with Bynum, Gasol, Bryant, and Nash. Kupchak could have lived with that, and so could any intelligent front office. When you’re not hungry, you get offered better meals. That’s why the Lakers came out well. Remember, two other teams improved significantly by almost all accounts – Philly and Denver – while the 4th team, Orlando, defends its decision – one they made on their own. No one coerced them.

      When my team does something stupid, I don’t blame the other team for taking advantage. That’s what makes winners and losers. There are good front offices (San Antonio, Miami, Lakers, Thunder) and there are bad front offices (Knicks, Clippers, Washington, Charlotte). There’s a reason why teams tend to win or lose consistently. The one thing both good teams and bad teams have in common is this: People and organizations hire and fire in their own image. It’s an immutable law of business, and if you disagree, you’ve never spent time with executives. Good ones hire good ones, bad ones hire bad ones. Dolan keeps bringing Isiah back to the fold. San Antonio’s front office keeps acting as a farm system for the rest of the NBA, who’s learning to pay attention. The tide is rising as a result. It makes for more competitive basketball, which is good for the NBA. I’m an NBA fan (and a Lakers fan since Wilt, Jerry, and Elgin). I root for good basketball, regardless whose team is playing. And I refuse to watch crap- which is why, if Charlotte is playing Orlando in February, I’ll check out Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for a quarter and move on. Here’s to better basketball, and fewer stupid front offices.

  29. “You can easily make the case that this is good news for any NBA fan that doesn’t live in Florida, Boston or Oklahoma City”

    Dude, no NBA fan outside of LA thinks the Dwight trade is good news. It just means another decade of you guys claiming to be better when in reality you are cheating at the game. Stealing the elite talent from other franchises just because you can doesn’t help the NBA, it’s destroying it. Smaller market teams are becoming less and less relevant and will probably soon disappear. The golden age of the NBA when parity existed and great rivalries were forged is gone and is never coming back thanks to David Stern. Today’s NBA is a pathetic joke with the Lakers sitting on top like a schoolyard bully who steals everyone’s lunch money.

  30. Here’s something to ease your mind Trey. You didn’t get Howard for nothing. Bynum is a great player. You went from a team with the best frontcourt in the league but with flaws, to another team with the best frontcourt league but with flaws. We just saw an NBA Finals with an incredible amount of athletic speed and length on the perimeter. That’s where the game appears to be going. Where do the Lakers fit in that matchup? Forget one on one matchups against the Westbrooks and Durants that everyone is talking about, what matters to me is help defense. Perimeter help defense is now the now lay of the land. You have to rotate as fast as possible to close out on 3pt shooter and penetrating players. Can the Lakers do that with Nash and Kobe and World Peace? Take a trip back to the 2011 and not 2012 playoffs. The Mavericks offense undresses the Lakers defense for this very reason. The Lakers had no interest in rotating quickly to stop Dallas from getting open 3s. The Lakers should fear the Spurs as much as the Mavericks. Oklahoma City can guard the Spurs offense because of their ridiculous athleticism and length rotating defensively fast enough to catch their ball movement. Can the Lakers do that?

    Then there’s the lack of Lakers scoring depth. Then there’s 51k – That’s Kobe’s regular season and playoffs total minutes. It’s right on the edge of top 10 of all time and ahead of Jordan, Shaq, Olajuwon, Robertson and most other players. -0.001, -0.006, +0.002. That’s Kobe’s TS% compared to league average the last 3 seasons. What if he’s Washington era Michael Jordan starting this year?

    This is not the Pau Gasol trade. You gave up something to get something. The Lakers are in no way an outright favorite next year

    • I’d say that the Steve Nash trade is closer to the Pau Gasol trade…

      All of the above are excellent points. The factor that may override or at least offset them is Howard. IF he’s healthy, it means L.A.’s defense can be much more stay-at-home, which means athleticism and closing speed become less of an issue. It’s why Orlando could rank in the top half-dozen defenses year after year despite having such athletic non-starters as Vince Carter, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, and Ryan Anderson playing heavy minutes. It makes L.A. a ‘plus one’ defense as soon as Howard gets healthy.

      As for the minutes/health issue, that’s a huge concern. L.A.’s starting backcourt will be 72 years old this year. Every one of the Laker’s starters has concerns regarding injury, age, or both. At the same time, while OKC is young and energetic, they’ve also been virtually injury-free the past 3 seasons.

      The exciting part is that L.A. is in the discussion. Their destiny is their own. It’s up to them and the injury/chemistry gods to determine how far they go this year.

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