To the horror of hematologists everywhere, Jim Buss, Lakers Vice-President of Basketball Operations, thinks there is something called Lakers blood. Apparently, it’s that thick soupy things that runs through your veins if you have been a Laker sometime during your playing career, preferably in those glory days of Showtime. As an example, Buss said Byron Scott has it, has Lakers blood. Mike D’antoni didn’t.
“Mike D’antoni and Mike Brown, they weren’t Lakers. They loved the Lakers and they tried their best and I think they’re both great coaches. Having that history of the Lakers from the very beginning of when (the Buss family) bought the team, gives you such a family sense. He’s a coach, a brother. He gets it. He’s a strong personality. He believes in himself and the Lakers.”
It’s sort of ironic to hear Jim Buss talk about family. His own family has been a dysfunctional mess. At odds with one another as to how to proceed post-Jerry Buss, Jim insults his sister’s boyfriend. His sister Jeanie is ticked off by it and says so in an well read interview. She isn’t perfect either. She gives Kobe Bryant a contract his brother finds excessive. Jim doesn’t clue her in on the basketball operations strategy. He shuts her out. She shuts him out. This is the Buss family values, how Jim and Jeanie live in the shadow of their dead father.
But perhaps that is the point. Because without their family intact, their whole family, it all feels less than complete, like someone played a cruel trick on them. So, the Buss kids need artificial reminders, throwbacks to a time when everyone was happy, when the Lakers were that perfect little organization that was flashy and dynamic and extraordinary and their father was the king on the hill.
Lakers blood, even if it existed outside of its metaphoric value, is incapable of winning games. Forget blood. How about more intellect and talent. Mike Brown and Mike D’antoni might not have had Lakers blood but they took the Lakers to the playoffs; Byron Scott didn’t. The proverbial Lakers blood can’t squeeze water from a rock. Scott’s philosophy on the soul of the game, how it is played, the revolutionary importance of three point shooting, his own lack of defensive continuity are things Lakers blood won’t change.
I don’t blame the Buss family for wanting what they used to have, for lusting after it so hard they can’t see the forest because of those damned trees getting in the way. Reaching back into that mythical past when they were dominant, when the game was slower revolving around big men and the Lakers could hook any free agent they wanted is preferable to this, this long and slow decline that isn’t going to erase itself anytime soon.
It’s not Lakers blood the Lakers need. It’s not players familiar with once upon a time. It is not the good old days of Lakers basketball. It is talent, first and foremost. It is the commitment to develop that talent. It is patience. It is leadership. It is the understanding and the wisdom that the days of glory and prosperity on the court (not in the business operations) are over. It is an owner who evaluates and values things that matter. Not Lakers blood. But trust. Inspiration. And vision.
photo via llananba