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The purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers is certainly sacrosant in the storied history of the great Southern California region. The ghost of the LA Rams and of course the Hollywood Stars struggle to reach the deep embedded consciousness of the Southern California region. Many sports teams never reach the popularity to be considered iconic reminders that they respresent upwards of 8 or 9 million residents of California. The San Diego Charges have never reached the great moment when one of their original quarterbacks Jack Kemp made incredible passes to Lance Rentzel. The days of the Oakland Raiders in Southern California featured a checkered past of the mad bomber Darrell Lamonica making incredible passes to an array of fantastic receivers. The storied days of Kenny Stabler and of course the “Just Win Baby!” mentality of their owner Al Davis……especially when they faced the Pittsburgh Steelers with free safeties and defensive backs named “Dr. Death”…..never quite captured the elements and style of Southern California. When they went to Oakland…..Southern California let out a sigh of relief.
Then came the LA Kings………a Hockey Team! Something happened here….”The Great One” Wayne Gretsky created a winning team with a fantastic group of great guys that captured for the moment……..that the hot deserts of Southern California was “cool enough” to be “Hockey Country”. That same concept was used by the Soccer Team the LA Galaxy…..that scored the great Beckum! That concept is still to be grasped fully. The same goes for the WNBA and women’s basketball in general. College Football however has seemed to keep the glow. Fresno State Bulldogs. San Diego State Aztecs, UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans have managed to keep their largess in the sporting minds of So Cal. However, with the departure of Pete Carroll to the Seattle Seahawks many USC fans have left the barn. The 70’s LA Ram quarterback, Pat Haden – (that never won the big one!) has become the USC Athletic Director and is keeping a near do well replacement coach named Lane Kiffin. Kiffin had every leg up to be successful – but failed to call the right plays, develop the right players or actually coach the Defense (with his dad – Monty), find a kicking game or develop a true sense of team. The outlook for 2013 looks entirely bleak. More of the same no doubt.
OK, back to the one great iconic team that represents the Southern California area – The LA Lakers! Whoops…..who did we not mention? The LA Clippers? Now who are those guys? Aren’t the Clippers the team that never makes the play-offs and never beats the Lakers? Hmmm…..well, last year the Clipper did both. They beat the aging Lakers and they made the play-offs. Of course, that amazing feat was cause by the Clippers ownership and management to fire their coach and bring in the coach of the dreaded Boston Celtics….for big money. It was such a good move that free agent Chris Paul….has decided to stay with Clippers for the time being. What a nice guy! After all, the NBA has become the so-called “Players League”. If the players don’t like you – Coaches get fired! Ownership might even change….who knows what can happen? Doc Rivers, is no doubt a great Coach. He had an aging Celtics team and got them to the play-offs. With any luck, he might be able to do the same for the Clippers – IF – the players think he is their pal. Brutal.
Back to our LA Lakers! Thank goodness Dwight Howard is gone from the LA Lakers. His jersey will not be displayed in the hallowed rafters of Staples Center. His huge bronze will not be displayed outside the Staples Center next to to Magic Johnson, Karim, Shaq and Jerry West. This guy was in it for the cash. This guy was in it for himself and it showed. There was never a time that he looked like he was Kobe Bryants team mate. He never had the connection that Derek Fisher had with not only the team, the coach and his teammates – but with the City of Los Angeles. The LA Lakers are Los Angeles family members. Steve Blake is not an LA guy..and must go. Meta World Peace is a marketing whiz that needs to either retire or make way for a great three point shooter. Steve Nash needs to go into retirement and make way for a powerful point guard that has a last name of Curry. Pau Gasol is a kind and wonderful person that did what he could to relate to the LA Lifestyle – but ultimately has failed. He needs to be traded so he and his brother can tear up the boards of the NBA and become an icon on his own. The current Coach of the LA Lakers needs to GO! Mike D’Antoni had one connection – Steve Nash. Steve was no doubt one of the greatest players in NBA history, but he doesn’t have it anymore. Steve cannot produce those 30 point games any longer. The modern game has changed and now the needs are different.
That leaves our belove Kobe Bryant. Don’t get us wrong. After his injury, we thought the best thing for Kobe was to retire – become an analyst along with Shaq and Charles Barkley. We may still reserve judgement on that issue, but for now……if Kobe can come back at 100% he can no longer be used 40 minutes a game. If Kobe has two or three seasons left in those amazing legs and body……..30 minutes should see him through. In order to do that, we will need a caring, absolutely incredible Coach that knows strategy, tactics and more importantly about sense of team and his players.
The LA Lakers are the Los Angeles team, now and always. Back in the day of Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin and those Championship years of the LA Rams….we look with grateful appreciation. We remember, those many years of losing to the Minnesota Vikings and then to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl so many years later. The Lakers have won Championships…..lots of Championships and even though Jerry Buss is gone, Phil Jackson and Jeannie Buss are! Jim Buss and Mitch Kupcheck better get on board and realize that the Laker organization is responsible for 8 to 9 million foks with hopes for the future. It is one heck of responsibilitybeing an iconic image that represents an entire region of the United States – and they better start taking it seriously.