The NBA is back! The Miami Heat got their rings on opening night and went on to pretty much dominate the Chicago Bulls, though the final score of 107-95 makes it seem a little bit closer than it actually was. Derrick Rose looked, um, pretty good? On the TNT broadcast, we were treated to 30 airings of the same three LeBron James commercials which led to the following burning question: “Why was LeBron struggling so much to do push ups with his little son on his back?” In game two of the double header, the Lake Show, or whatever group of castoffs is standing in for this year’s Lake Show, took on their roommates the Clippers. Kobe was in a black-on-black-on-black mamba suit at the end of the bench and for whatever reason (fear? ennui? nickyoungus iwanttostabiate?) it reminded us of last year’s fantastic Kobe System ads for Nike. The Lakers look like they’re in for a long season as I write this (halftime, down 63-55, Nick Young looking like we all feared he’d be) so here’s to Kobe– and the rest of the NBA, WELCOME BACK!– hoping he gets better and eventually makes Nick Young apologize to Kanye West for wasting two million dollars of his time.
Back in 2011, former Laker Andrew Bynum put these sentences out in the universe:
I’m not disappointed in myself. It is what it is. We got embarrassed tonight, so that’s what happened.
He was referring to the ignominious sweep the Dallas Mavericks put on the Lakers in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Well, that and this:
And literally with one fell swoop Bynum ran himself out of LA. That the ABC production team had the presence of mind to cut to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchek is a gift to be treasured. Look at that face in real time. Heads were going to have to roll and Mitch was pissed. Even though Bynum had glass knees the Lakers were invested in his eventual progress. Kareem was invested in his eventual progress. Bynum had even made the All Star team that year (his first). There were games during that year when Bynum looked like the future of the Lakers. But trying to murder JJ Barea, failing, and then tearing his jersey off netted Byram a new home in Philadelphia.
He came down with a renewed case of kneeitis almost immediately.
Deadspin is reporting today that Bynum now anticipates sitting out the entire 2013 season, solidifying his transition from All Star into interesting haircut in just over a year. Kareem is even saying Dwight fucking Howard’s work ethic is superior to Bynum’s. Its a sad fall for someone who really should be pretty good at basketball. Bynum may be good milking his last little bit in the league, and hey, his knees may really hurt. I certainly wouldn’t mind coming down with ten or twenty million dollars by age 25, then deciding to do something entirely different. But Bynum could have been a really great player, and some combination of his childrage and faulty knees is undercutting that. Shame.
The Lakers have been great for the majority of my life. True, I fully adopted the team during the Ceballos-Van Exel-Jones era, a comparatively low period by the Lakers’ standards, but prior to that and from that point on– except for 2005— the Lakers were great.
Well, now things are getting pretty dark for the Lake Show. And not dark like in ’05. This is very near the end of Kobe’s career; Dwight Howard, supposedly the future of the franchise, needs to be put on a rocket, to the sun. The Clippers are fantastic. Getting my mind around all of this makes me a little woozy. I’ve been drunk on Laker domination for years and if they stop now I’m afraid the cumulative hangover may kill me. Walk through several of the Lakers’ biggest issues with me to see if we can come up with anything. I’ve already put out ALTTAB’s best attempt to fix things, but we haven’t heard back from Kupchek yet.
First, the ALTTAB-led ‘Dwight Howard on a rocket, to the sun’ campaign has been forced to continue with even greater intensity thanks to the addition of new characters to the situation. Now we’ve all gotten a chance to meet Dwight’s dad and his interesting theories about the hypothetical impact of Stan Van Gundy on the Lakers.
It is unclear exactly why Dwight’s dad is so sure Stan would be all over Kobe to stop calling out Dwight for being an awful person. If anything, Stan has a vested interest in Dwight being called out:
Remember those days? When Dwight had perfected his NBA Hamlet routine and was taking his performance to even higher Shakespearean levels by incorporating elements of Julius Caesar? The latest rumor going around the League has Dwight going to Boston for a broken down Rajon Rondo. Kupchak has denied this report, again insisting that he has no interest in trading Dwight. Get those scientists back in the lab! ON A ROCKET, TO THE SUN!
Second, Lakers owner Jerry Buss appears to be in his final days. Buss, who bought the Lakers in 1979 and has overseen 10 NBA Championship seasons during his 33 years of ownership, has been fighting cancer for quite some time. His illness’ progression has been an open secret for a while, made even more apparent by the fact that Buss has been seen in public less and less and that he hasn’t been able to attend a single Lake Show game this season. Some people are already spinning the story forward to the potential Buss family infighting that may take place over the terms of ownership and power. Its a sad time.
Third, look at this picture of Pau and his hurt foot:
For the love of Christ. Pau is currently laid up with a torn plantar fascia. He’s not going to have surgery but he’s going to be doing stuff like that up there for six to eight weeks waiting to heal up. Ugh.
Fourth, the Clippers. They look fantastic. The most recent battle of Staples Center Tenants, on Valentine’s Day, was a blood bath, with the Lake Shaw getting put down 125-101. Dwight looked helpless against Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the latter who effortlessly dunked on Dwight’s head. Its really hard to remember Dwight is a former Defensive Player of the Year. For kids from the LA area who grew up in the 90s and early 00s, this new reality of Clipper competence is jarring and seeing it juxtaposed directly with the Lakers’ flailing– ugh.
That’s about I can take of this. Hopefully Jerry Buss is cooking up one more great move from his hospital bed.
Dwight on how his legs go numb when he sits down:
Well for people who have had back surgery they will see it more than a person who never has had back surgery. For me, even sitting down in this chair right now is causing my legs to go numb and having this tingly sensation all the way down my legs. That happens when I’m playing and that happens when I’m just sitting on the bench for a couple of minutes. It’s not easy.
Dwight on how his legs go numb while playing basketball:
There are times when I can’t feel my legs when I’m out there playing. I try to play through it so it’s not just like a situation where everything is back to 100 percent. That stuff takes time. When I got injured my nerves in my legs were short-circuited so basically because of my disk being on my nerves, basically shut everything down from my back all the way down to my toes. That takes time to heal.
Kobe on Dwight’s difficult transition to successful franchise:
(Howard) has never been in a position where someone is driving him as hard as I am, as hard as this organization is. It’s win a championship or everything is a complete failure. That’s just how (the Lakers) do it. And that’s foreign to him.
Kobe on Dwight playing with an injury:
I don’t think he’s ever had to play through injuries — he’s been healthy his entire career. It’s a new experience for him.
Dwight on his potential future as a PR flack:
I’m not a crybaby. I didn’t try to cry my way out of Orlando. That was never my intention, or not what I did at all. And I understand everybody thought it was that way because of what was being put out there. I’m not indecisive. I love this game. You know I play it because it inspires me; it inspires millions of kids around me, adults and all. And, I’m going to have fun while I do it.
And yet, Kupchak on his plans for the Lakers’ roster:
We will not make a trade. We will not trade Dwight Howard. We have no intention of making a trade.
Maybe those sun rocket tests have been going better than previously believed.
So the Lakers have been having a rough year. (Look at that points allowed ranking. Yikes.) To recap: during the off season, the Lakers seemed to have delivered another Gasol-ian coup by signing Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. But then this super team stumbled through a winless preseason and fell flat on their faces once the games started to actually count. The pall over coach Mike Brown loomed large and no amount of players letting themselves be coached by him was going to prevent Brown’s departure. Then Mike D’Antoni came on board (a decision supported by this purveyor of sports opinion and fart noises) and things stayed pretty much the same. True, Nash was out with a knee injury during much of this time. But the issue with the Lakers wasn’t offense, Nash’s area of expertise. Look at that points allowed ranking again. Twenty-fifth in the League. Defense is the issue.
One might think this strange, on a team with three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. True, as with Nash, Howard has been dealing with injuries: the after effects of back surgery, and more recently, an on-going shoulder problem. But in watching these Laker games, I don’t buy those injuries being the main variables explaining Howard’s disastrously poor play and failure to imbue this team with anything resembling defensive prowess. Rather, I think Dwight thinks of himself as a peer with Kobe Bryant and his entitled desire for touches has both screwed up the Lakers’ offense and his pouting over not getting what he feels are enough touches has screwed up the Lakers’ defense. For whatever reason, Dwight looks at film like this:
And says to himself, “I don’t know about you, but I think that kid should be the first option on offense, especially on a team with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Just look how awkward and graceless those moves are. Get me more of that!” Its total nonsense and its killing the Lakers.
Now the Lakers could try to work with Dwight and help him come to understand “roles” on “teams,” but I think that’s a waste of time. This is a guy with absolutely no self awareness. This is the guy whose free throw percentage has decreased every year he’s been in the League. (Did you know he shot 67% as a rookie?) He’s a head case and should be put in a rocket and shot into the center of the sun. Barring testing coming back on the feasibility of that plan, the Lakers’ best option is a trade. And who better to take advantage of that the New York Knicks? Now I realize the Knicks have been having a string of good luck recently. But let’s be honest about who we’re dealing with here. The Knicks are still playing footsie with Isiah Thomas; they’re only one insane decision from returning normalcy to Yahoo! Answers message boards the internet over. Here is that insane decision:
Dwight Howard for Tyson Chandler, Steve Novak, and Iman Shumpert.
First off, let’s cross the bridge of the NBA’s Byzantine trade rules: ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine pronounces the trade successful. Hollinger does knock the Knicks two games for pulling the trigger, but hey, its Dwight Howard. He’s good, right? Any time you can turn an undersized big whitey shooter, injured Iman Shumpert, and Tyson Chander into a three time Defensive Player of the Year IN HIS PRIME you do it. Right? Right???
And this is where the Knicks fall prey to the same siren song that drowned the Lakers, and much of the rest of the League last summer. Tyson Chandler is exactly the inside presence the Lakers had hoped to get from Howard. Chandler is about put backs and alley oops, getting rebounds, and winning basketball games. Novak can shoot and stretch the floor in a way that will immediately help Kobe and Nash, plus his being slow is less of a liability because the guy is 6’10”! Just have him play three point line to three point line. And Shumpert helps the Lakers get younger. He’ll have the opportunity to learn from Kobe and play a role on the second unit. And if he has the foresight that Dwight lacks, he can polish his game to potentially become a big part of the Lakers’ future, post-Kobe.
The Kincks, well, I think a Knicks team with Howard and Amar’e Stoudemire ends in a slap fight with both guys out for the year. Which, let’s be honest, is a best case scenario. Short of putting Dwight in a rocket and shooting him into the center of the sun.
How else could someone explain the hiring of Mike D’Antoni as the new coach of the Lake Show? That’s right, internet. We were on it from the very beginning. And as you can imagine, we stand by our prior advice and endorse this hire.
The only negative issue resulting from this situation appears to be a mishandling of communication with Phil Jackson. Phil was apparently under the impression that the job was his to turn down, an impression, given his five Lakers rings, I think he was reasonable in having. But the Lakers moved quickly (as Deadspin notes, in seven seconds or less) and didn’t give Phil the opportunity to decide one way or the other. That’s a shitty move. When combined with past instances of questionable personnel management (hiring Mike Brown without discussing options with Kobe first, firing Mike Brown nanoseconds after telling the press “I have no problems with Mike Brown at all“) the Jim Buss era of Lakers management seems little interested in diplomacy. This may have detrimental consequences in the future, especially as people with hurt feelings disseminate out into the League. But for now, its a great day in Laker Land.
So the Lake Show is 1-4. Tonight, they play Golden State and they’re 3-2. This post was mostly done and as it think is still apparent from those first two sentences, it was shaping up to be one long sigh. But then something amazing happened Friday.
Mike Brown has been fired as head coach of the Lakers.
This is fantastic news. While there is a reasonable argument that firing a coach after five games smells like panic, this move also shows the Lakers realize they should be winning now– not after the offense finally gets dialed in, not after Antawn Jameson invents a time machine, not after Dwight Howard figures out how to not be a piece of shit. Now. Why else have Steve Nash’s aching back on your team? ALTTAB agrees wholeheartedly with Magic:
Feel bad for Coach Mike Brown, who’s a great guy, but don’t think he was the right guy for the job in the first place.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 9, 2012
Mike Brown’s issues were not that he was a dick or that he didn’t work hard enough. Supposedly he slept in his office at Staples quite a bit. Actually, that fact informs his greater problem: he coached too much.
Nearly every person in the universe who looked at the Lakers’ line up this year and had the following thought, either as a dream or a nightmare:
Steve Nash uses a Pau Gasol screen, hits a rolling Gasol with the perfect, left-handed pocket pass. Gasol draws an extra defender and hits an open Kobe Bryant in the corner. Kobe blows by a closing defender, spins past another, throws a no-look pass off the glass, where a smiling Dwight Howard finishes with a two-handed dunk, all while Metta World Peace is sharing popcorn and a beverage with an A-list fan, knowing his services aren’t often needed on the offensive end of the floor. (via Israel Gutierrez)
Self evident, yes? And the key to all of this, as Gutierrez notes, is Nash. Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the idea to implement the modified Princeton offense (which, to us, looked a lot like Kobe throwing endless post inlets to Dwight Howard) actually began prior to the Lakers’ acquisition of Nash. But once Nash was in purple and gold, shouldn’t this offense have been thrown out in favor of the pick and roll? Again, why else have Nash on your team, if you’re not interested in taking advantage of his skills? This situation has been a little complicated by Nash’s apparent inability to stay on the floor without the Phoenix Suns’ training staff. But if the Lakers’ issue had been Nash’s health, if the problem had been that Steve “Adult Chicken Pox” Blake wasn’t able to effectively run Nash’s sets, then Mike Brown wouldn’t be in the same situation. Certainly he’d have been expected to make adjustments, but everyone would be focused on how Nash wrangled a three year contract out of the Lakers when even the Phoenix Suns, with US Airways Arena built atop the Fountain of Youth, passed. I’m as big a Kendall Marshall fan as anyone, but if you have access to a healthy Nash, he’s the right choice. Instead, Mike Brown insisted on applying a system that made no sense given his personnel. Too much coaching.
And that’s only on offense. Mike Brown, according to people who write about him, is known as a defensive “mastermind.” Despite that reputation, Mike Brown’s Lake Show wasn’t known for it’s defensive toughness.
…Brown was hired for his defensive acumen, and the Lakers’ defense, especially since the trade deadline last year when they acquired Ramon Sessions and traded Fisher, has been bad. They are 23rd this season in defensive rating (points per 100 possessions), and that’s with three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. The Lakers’ defense wasn’t struggling, it was bad.
There really isn’t a good explanation for that result, if you buy Mike Brown’s supposed defensive coaching skills. And you shouldn’t. This is the guy that said about both LeBron and Kobe, “He lets me coach him.” While that is clearly cherry picking one sentence among tens of thousands Mike Brown has spoken in the past decade, it shows a lack of gravitas that no coach, especially a “defensive” coach, should expose. Phil Jackson would never say something like that. Twice. And with the Lakers, that who you’re going to be compared to.
In the aftermath, the Lakers’ players have been widely described as “surprised” by Mike Brown’s firing and Kobe has begun advocating for Phil to unretire and return to LA. But there are lots of usual suspects for the Lakers’ head coaching job. Here at ALTTAB, we have one person in mind: Mike D’Antoni. It’s about Nash. Granted, he needs to get healthy. But a healthy Nash back with D’Antoni’s seven seconds or less, with Kobe taking over in critical situations and Howard covering Nash’s liabilities on defense– that’s the version of the 2012-2013 Lake Show we want to see.
DotW: New Orleans Hornets’ head coach Monty Williams, for just really being a douche.
Mr. Pancakes: the NBA bitches!!!
Burrito: The World Series of Fighting exists. Why do these other fighting organizations think they can drink UFC’s milkshake? Isn’t it almost like going up against the NFL?