The Lakers are 17-29. So they’re bad. That’s a 30-win pace for the season, which would be an improvement from last year (26 wins) and the year before (17 wins). But that’s also trash and it’s not all that different from the year before that (21 wins) or the year before that (27 wins). It’s been a five year stretch of Sacramento-level futility in Westwood.
The Curse of Dwight Howard and the Hex of Jimmy Buss have hung around the Lakers’ neck since the the 2012-2013 season. Since then, a franchise that had had a winning record in 17 of the preceding 18 seasons has missed the playoffs for four straight years. But both Dwight and Jimmy are long gone by now, having become a wack totem of missed free throws and yet another incompetent rich white guy living off his daddy’s money, respectively. But the current Lakers have an interesting core of young players, including last year’s number two overall pick in the NBA Draft, Lonzo Ball. Maybe there is cause of optimism– maybe the curse will be broken!
And then ESPN had to go and run the little infonugget above. Granted, since they put it out, the Lakers have managed to pull out their first Lonzo-less wins of the season with a 13 point victory at home against the Pacers on Friday and again tonight with a 20 point blowout of…the Knicks. But regardless, that is bleak. That a bad team seems to rely so much on a rookie point guard to claw out whatever few wins it can is cause for concern. And not just because of the of the liability of having an entire team’s success or failure hanging on the health of one person. The real problem is because that person specifically is Lonzo Ball.
For some reason, USA Today maintains a subdomain called lonzowire.usatoday.com. It is full of the most inane bullshit you can possibly imagine, including posts with headlines like “LaMelo Ball wades into Lakers Troll Wars, gets burned by Kyle Kuzma” and “Andre Drummond Thinks He’s ‘Better Than’ Lonzo Ball At Rapping” and “LiAngelo, LaMelo Ball combine for 33 points in 116-93 Vytautas loss to Pieno Zvaigzdes,” which is a beat story on a Lithuanian League game in which the subjects of the the piece lost by 23, had a plus/munis of -27 when they were on the floor together, and did nothing to move their team out of last place.
Now why does USA Today, the paper that sells itself with the slogan “We Deliver News, Not Noise,” publish a full subdomain devoted to Lonzo Ball and his weird brothers’ European vacation? You know why. Because their father, LaVar Ball, says saysays to the media and they cannotfuckinggetenoughofit. To wit, oh look, here is a ranking of LaVar Ball’s “most outlandish claims” put out by that very same anti-noise newspaper. So provocative!
Look, if you’re the Magic, if you’re the Hawks, if you’re the touchstone-for-incompetence Kings, then whatever. The few wins you are getting are totally dependent on your star rookie with the helicopter dad who can invent controversy out of thin air. So what? But this is the Lakers. Sixteen rings. Statues upon statues outside of the arena. Someone needs to say it, so let me be the first: the Lakers are too good for this shit.
It is one thing for a great franchise to go through a down period. It’s happened to the Celtics and now it’s happening to the Lakers. But it is entirely another thing for a great franchise hump short term gains at all costs and in the face of ample evidence that this will all end tears. Even in the depths of the late 90s the Celtics were never humiliating themselves by mortgaging all of their franchise’s allure and gravitas for, yuck, Dwight Howard. Or for the Big Baller Brand. The Lakers can, and should, aspire to more than being the first team Lonzo Ball forces his way off, on the advice of his father.
And here is a guy hitting a halfcourt shot for $100,000 at a Laker game.
Hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org / @guscaravalho / @alttabradio.