To move forward, the Lakers need a long look in the mirror


LOS ANGELES – Even though the Los Angeles Lakers continue to lose ground in the playoffs at the NBA's Western Conference after Saturday's 120-107 loss to the Boston Celtics, the Staples Center remains an extremely enjoyable place to watch a match.

Lawrence Tanter's baritone gravitas over public discourse; the gold and green jerseys that gush forth under the warm lights of the orange scene; the chic and minimalist production devoid of all the boxing noise and odious stunts that afflict so many NBA arenas.

No NBA team has lost more games in the last six seasons than the Lakers, but anyway, basketball activities have graciously spared the game operations, which are still the best in the league . The Lakers have always had a gift to present and that has not changed.

What was planned as a renowned basketball game featured little basketball import. The announcement of the release of Brandon Ingram for the season due to a coagulation in the right arm has made the confrontation between the two most prestigious franchises in the league has become another topic for reflection. Staples Center did not talk about its playoff potential, the rebirth of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry or LeBron James's triple double in the 80th career.

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LeBron James records a triple-double, but Kyrie Irving's 30 points propel the Celtics ahead of the Lakers for a third consecutive victory.

Nowadays, Laker talks are about everything on the ground. In this regard, the 2019 Lakers are the perfect representation of the current NBA: machinations; plot; chatter about future transactions; board games; which the Lakers can get this offseason; that the Lakers should get; that the Lakers will get. For the moment, the Lakers are not a professional sports team but a thread of news.

The Lakers face many organizational challenges. If you stick to the word of the owner, Jeanie Buss, there is no better in this season than the media.

"The biggest challenge for [us is] the "false news" about how we were trading our entire list against a certain player, which is completely wrong, "said Buss at a panel held last weekend at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference.

The statement is remarkable when you look at the recent failures of the franchise. It is particularly surprising to see the material benefits it enjoys. The team plays in the most attractive market of the league; their local broadcast contract earns them over $ 150 million per season; they employ LeBron James; and they took second overall in three of the last four events.

Most losses in the regular season since 2013

Losses Latest series
Lakers 320 2013
Knicks 317 2013
Magic 309 2012
76ers 308 2018
Suns 307 2010

And even when the Lakers are miserable, the team still carries a mystique in gold: the dates of the national television; List of celebrities present; the unshakable condition of being fair The Lakers

Can you imagine the confusion that a homeowner must experience if she looks at her team from 156 to 320 in her last six seasons, a company with all these strengths, and concludes that the main cause for concern is information that swirls outside? Despite its falsity, the statement reveals so much about one of the true flaws of the Lakers. They are so devoid of self-reflection that they can not see anything plentiful for those who pay attention to it:

The Lakers are so enamored of the glory of their brand that they forget the essence of their product.

Rather than blame the unfavorable reports that hindered his frankness, Buss could have taken a page from Robert Sarver, owner of a The Suns have recorded the fifth highest number of losses in these six seasons. He said publicly: "The organization did not work up to my own or the expectations of our fans, and it's up to me to change."

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Responsibility and leadership are not exactly the distinctive qualities of the Lakers in recent years. They excel at optical executives: President Magic Johnson at Lonzo Ball's introductory press conference in 2017 which indicates the location on the training site where he would like to see the jersey mounted by Ball; CEO Rob Pelinka opens "The Alchemist" and reads a hollow aphorism as if it was an exercise in enlightened leadership; speak hard to a coach mano to mano behind closed doors.

The Lakers will undoubtedly evaluate their coaching staff, but there are many other inventories to evaluate, primarily for the property. At one point, the Lakers must recognize that leading an NBA team is more than just a branding and talent-building exercise. A front office is a management project like any other company: NBA teams make widgets, but they win (or, more often, losses for the Lakers).

Some questions: Buss can begin by performing an autopsy on his very sick patient:

  • What are we doing here?

  • Why do so many players play their best basketball after leaving our team?

  • Why have our free agency recruitment efforts failed?

  • Have we hired the right people to make the big decisions?

  • Is this decision-making process consistent?

  • Why has our collection of high-stakes not been turned into a winning team?

  • Are we making our coaching staff more responsible or hobbling them?

  • Do all members of the organization feel that they are working on something, feel that their work is valued and have we communicated what it is?

In June, Johnson said: "Next summer, if no one comes and I sit here like that, it's a failure." The advanced responsibility is admirable, but it is revealing that Johnson considers the recruitment of superstars as the entire project, as if the management of the Lakers was an advanced course that included only the final of July. This myopia partly explains the poor composition of James. (The Lakers are now 24-24 when he plays.)

The best solution for the Lakers is to forget that they are the Lakers. Behave as if you were not the most popular brand in the sport, as if you did not reside in the most attractive city, as if you had not won 16 championships or you are imbued with a rarefied power that can only be administered by people. who are part of the Lakers tribe.

Stop trying to restore something of the past and start building something for the future.

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