From Kobe and Pau to LeBron and Davis: the Lakers forget their black decade

Since 2010, the Lakers have moved in a sea of questionable decisions and entered the worst time in their history. LeBron picks up the legacy.


Six years without playoffs, nine without passing the second round, seven different coaches, young promises transferred, internal civil war, seasons of less than 30 victories ... that is what, among many other things, the last decade of Los Angeles Lakers. The darkest era a franchise that went from being fixed in the title playoffs to the laughingstock of the NBA has ever faced. Without direction or structure, without visible leaders or anyone to take the helm, whether on the track, the bench or the offices, the most glamorous and almost winning entity (they can match the Celtics this year at the top with number 17) In the history of the best League in the world, it suffered a crisis that seemed gargantuan and was entering that dark abyss that small markets or younger teams represent so well. But never, never, never, a corporation like the Lakers, valued at more than 4.4 billion dollars, with 16 rings behind them and a speech that the NBA made as its own in the 80s, when David Stern collected the crumbs of a competition in low hours and almost exhausted after her fight with the ABA and made paraphernalia, showbiz and glamor the unwritten rules of a League that, including Magic and Larry rivalry, was always on the rise since then, well accompanied by some speeches and some stories that had, in part, an extraordinary Hollywood role.

A decade has had to pass for the Lakers to forget their most recent past and smile in the face of a promising future. Especially in recent weeks, where returning to the top will become the number 1 objective that has been achieved, with much effort and corpses, to tie the present with wickers to the past, to adjust pieces with multiple movements to have a winning project to short term but that also serves for the next years. Surround LeBron so that, when he retires (something that seems like it will never happen), Davis will be the one who takes over and the leadership of that entity that was yesterday, today he wants to be again and tomorrow, to continue being. Because it seems that it was not so long ago that Kobe and Pau won their second consecutive title in their third Finals, achieving redemption after the 2008 defeat and adding a new title to the Lakers' showcases, the fifth for a Bryant who was placed at one from Jordan and already had one for each finger of one hand.

Needless to say, the story was radically different. He never caught up with His Airness, neither in greatness nor in titles, although no one ever came as close as he. And the last years of his career were never like the first, despite the fact that the next three seasons still continued at an exceptional level, including 2012-13, with 34 years and 17 seasons behind him, and in which he left. to 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6 assists. A very low prize for a ruptured Achilles tendon and an early end that nobody wanted but that ended up being certified. Before it, Phil Jackson had to give in for almost the first time in his career: the messages from Bryant and Fisher asking him to stay one more year were a step, but the exhaustion from travel and his advanced age (almost 65 years), coupled with his multiple operations (hip and company) inclined the technician to retreat. He finally decided to continue, but ceasing to collect the 12 million he was collecting at that time, due in large part to the rest of the owners complaining about his large salary and Doctor Buss had to bow his head before them due to the lockout that was in progress. to come and that was already more than known in the League.

With less salary and Kobe knee problems, he started his last season. It is already known how it ended, with the guard attending fewer training sessions with the approval of his coach and a sweep in the semifinals against those Mavericks who reached their particular redemption. The semifinals were repeated the following year, with Mike Brown already on the bench and his dismissal at the beginning of 2012-13 (Nash, Howard and company) did not like Bryant, nor did the election of the new coach, Mike D'Antoni. On the one hand, the mismanagement of Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak in negotiating the umpteenth round of Phil Jackson obscured the negotiations, with the Zen Master learning from the press of the agreement with D'Antoni when he already thought he was going to return to the benches (in between, Bernie Bickerstaff led five games as interim). On the other hand, the arrival of a technician who was famous for the Seven Seconds or Less of the Suns was not well received by a team in which Dwight Howard did not go to pick and roll, Pau Gasol was neither Shawn Marion nor Amar'e Stoudemire and Nash instead of 32 years was 38. At that time, Magic Johnson, one of the future protagonists, would declare that "the only one who can run the 48 minutes is Kobe Bryant" .

The Achilles tendon and civil war

Of course, Kobe ran until he broke. The Achilles tendon specifically, which started a three-season odyssey in which he played 6, 35 and 66 games before retiring. The era of empowered players coupled with the shadow cast by Bryant himself, granted the star the ability to retire whenever he wanted even in the one franchise where, no matter how good you are, you are worse than the jersey you represent. The fight against time and against himself gave a final distraction to some fans who represented like no one else the idiosyncrasy of one of the faces of a very rich but very poor city and that, as far as Staples is concerned, is more concerned with appearing what to be. Of course, that is what philanthropist and womanizer Doctor Buss, who acquired the franchise in 1979 from Jack Kent Cooke, along with the Forum, a ranch and the NHL Los Angeles Kings team, had achieved: forging celebrities on the track based on piling them up in the stands, capitalizing on the city's social life, and of course playing basketball better than anyone had ever played, something he did with Showtime.

Between the fall and fall of a Kobe who always refused to fall, the internal struggle broke out in the franchise. Jerry Buss passed away from cancer on February 18, 2013, passing 66% of the Lakers' ownership to his six children through a trust. Jeanie Buss took four years to emerge successfully, in which she endured the coup attempts of her brother Jim and his broken promises to exit the franchise if things did not go well within three years. With judges through, it was in 2017 when Jeanie took full control, avoiding clandestine meetings between Jim and Jhonny (another brother) to throw her out with legal tricks (and not so legal). Today, the favorite daughter of Doctor Buss is in the eyes of all the owner of the Lakers, and hers was the decision to throw Mitch Kupchak in favor of Magic Johnson and reorganize a hierarchy in which he was already the most visible head, holding on to a power he had achieved without the help of his former partner (Phil Jackson) and with people loyal to his service: Magic and Rob Pelinka.

All this was finally closed in 2017, a year after Kobe Bryant said goodbye to basketball with 60 points and began a new era that took away a sentenced Byron Scott and who, being a better coach than his latest shows work with the Lakers and Cavs (he played two Finals with the Nets and played a great role with the Hornets) he was there in the transition period and left with only 17 victories (a bit too deep) in his last season, also Kobe's . The departure of the star and his eternal (and eternal) figure gave way to a new era that would return the glamor and lights to a city that, basketball, had lost its reason for being and saw how its bad brother, the Clippers, remained ahead of him in the rankings year after year. The farce in the form of a game of thrones left a victorious (Jeanie) and changed the direction of the Lakers forever. Or, at least, so far it is. It is the only thing we know.New war and LeBron

's promise fulfilled "It's one of the reasons I wanted to come to this franchise, take them to the place they were used to being, compete for a championship." These are LeBron's words after the victory in the fifth game of the Western semifinals against the Rockets. It has cost, but the Lakers have returned to a West end 10 years after Kobe and Pau, and certify the end of their black decade to play it against their new intimate enemies (the Clippers) in a tie (to be held except for surprise) that seems like a thing of destiny and that promises fireworks. LeBron has filled the void left by Kobe and set the new rules of the game, averaging at least 25 + 10 + 5 in the first two playoff rounds (no one had done it before) and being the top assistant for a season of which you could easily take the MVP. And all, leading the Lakers to the playoffs six years later, the longest crisis in the franchise, which had never been left out in more than two years.

Of course, before the triumph there was a new battle; Jeanie's with Magic Johnson and that farce that unraveled the Lakers last year, bringing in Anthony Davis in exchange for everything and everyone. Neither Magic was favorable to a Luke Walton who did have Jeanie's approval but who was left without her support (at least publicly) in his dismissal, already sponsored by Rob Pelinka and by that famous LeBron environment that projects an influence. that he already ended his day with David Blatt and that he was about to do the same with Spoelstra in Miami. Given the refusal of Pat Riley, little could be done, as a LeBron assumed that to greet that heavenly being he has to remove even his crown. As they say out there, there is always a bigger fish. And that will always be the case, no matter how much LeBron continues to rise brilliantly and unchecked in the food chain.

LeBron has made good promises of change and has been able to with the worst season of his career (2017-18, first without playoffs since 2005 and with the longest injury he has had) to take the Lakers where they belong, back to the fight for the championship. Magic left with the only feat of having brought him (which is no small thing) and what he did not get if Rob Pelinka did, bring Anthony Davis and tie him in a renovation that seems assured. Pelinka, a personal friend of the now-missed Kobe, was another bet by Jeanie to take over a sports management from which Magic came out claiming that of "backstabbing." More than a year after that, Magic has been seen around the Staples for Kobe's funeral and little else. Nobody misses him, although his voting intention remains clear on Twitter and he continues to represent one of the most important figures in the history of the NBA in general (the salvation of Stern) and of the Lakers in particular (the jewel of the buss father crown) .

And the Lakers, to dream. From Kobe and Pau they have jumped to another mythical couple, LeBron and Davis, who in their first ten games in the playoffs have achieved a combined 542 points, 212 rebounds and 129 assists combined, the only couple with such numbers with Oscar Robertson-JackTwyman and Elgin Baylor-Jerry West. The road back to glamor has been completed, the greatest Los Angeles crisis in history has disappeared and the winds of change have already arrived, whether or not they report a ring to the golden coffers of the franchise. LeBron secures the present and Davis, the future. The offices stabilize and the structure takes hold. The Lakers move past their darkest decade and start their way to the top, in a constellation of which they will always be a star that has regained a glow that has returned to stay. The wait has been too long. But they are already here. At last. The Lakers are back.

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