*The NBA lockout was finally resolved two weeks ago, ending our “Basketball Jones” depression. Even though college basketball has been “poppin’,” it doesn’t resolve our daily dose of funks, dunks, shakes and bakes that come with professional basketball.
So now the NBA is back and commissioner David Stern hasn’t cut us any slack, as the talent of the league have sought to “test their value” in the market before the 66 game season starts. Stern flexed on the players immediately when he stopped Pau Gasol/Lamar Odom from going to the Hornets and Chris Paul from going to the Lakers. Still looks like he’s ruling with the iron fist that caused the lockout in the first place. It also looks like Stern has a bias. Hornets netted TWO all-stars for one all-star, but the “Commish” essentially said they were too old and that he wasn’t going to let the Lakers “upgrade.” That’s when the problems started. Not only did Paul (and the other players) find out “free agency” really ain’t free, the Lakers found out you can’t get a star before you quit a star.
The Lakers tried the typical “playa” move of trying to get a dime for two nickels. In this case, Paul is clearly the best point guard in the league (even though Chicago point guard Derrick Rose is the league’s MVP). That notwithstanding, Paul has put together several all-star seasons, so he’s “the Man.” At least right now. But he is a TEN. Lamar Odom is the league’s “Sixth Man of the Year,” and while in his prime—he’s past the arc at 32. He’s still an 8. Pau Gasol is one of the elite centers of the league…but he’s not in the top five, he has a reputation of being soft and disappearing during the playoffs. And he’s old too (an old 31). He’s a role player that helps the right team, but not every team. He’s a six. Neither, or both, were fine enough for Sterns as the league owns the Hornets and wasn’t about to mess up their gate by trading the marquee player without an equivalent gate draw. Paul is contemplating suing the league for restricting his freedom.
The Lakers wanted to walk out on opening day, Christmas Day, with their new dime (to go with their old dime, Kobe—who’s old too, at 33, but as the best player in the league, STILL fine as hell). Kobe is to basketball what Beyonce is to music. Ain’t no kickin her to the curb…at any age. They’ll find another YOU in a minute…But Stern nixing the Paul deal created what the brothas on the street call, “a sit-chuation.”
It’s like this, the old girl found out she was about to be dumped for the new girl BEFORE the brotha could break the news. That’s a problem…a fit waiting to be thrown, let’s say. And that’s exactly what happened. Lamar went ballistic, and demanded a trade. They couldn’t talk him out of it. I could hear Mitch Kupchak now, “C’mon Lamar. You know I still love you. But things ain’t working out. It’s not you…it’s me. I need something different…not better, just different.” It went about as well as you would expect it to go when you trying to upgrade and the other person knows it. Errbody know what the deal is. The conversation’s only taking place because Kupchak got caught when Stern nixed the deal. Odom thought he meant more to the Lakers. At least a phone call.
So, with the deal dead, the Lakers were stuck with a jilted lover, who they wanted to show up to practice. That didn’t work out well either. Odom said he was “out,” demanded to leave NOW…which would be the case when the old girl finds out about the new one. Nobody sticks around, nor do they expect anybody to. But the Lakers all the way tripped. They gave up Lamar for a second round draft pick…to their arch enemy and division rival, no less. That’s like giving up your still fine @zz girl for a blind date. You go from a sure thing to unsure about anything and then you have to see her with somebody you despise several times a year. This is about as ugly as ugly gets.
It’s a tough one. Every time the Lakers are getting their butts kicked by the World Champions this year, they gonna look over there and see Mark Cuban and Dirk hugging Lamar, and sticking his tough out at the Lakers. Every man know what that’s about (Yeah, I got yo girl!!! I got yo girl!!!). And the Lakers didn’t even get the upgrade they were looking to step out with. At least not yet…and there are doubts that they will.
Magic Johnson tweeted that we should give Mitch Kupchak and Dr. Buss a chance because he knows they have a plan. Well, I hope so. Because they tripped, fo real. They only let their second best player walk off after he heard they were trading him for the BBD (bigger and better deal). Lamar now has an incentive to help the Mavs repeat as champions. The Lakers have nothing to show for letting Lamar go, yet.
That’s not quite what we were looking for to start the season. First, USC on probation, then the Dodgers implode and now this… L.A. sports ain’t what it used to be.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at @dranthonysamad.