From the Showtime Lakers to the Kobe era, it seemed like everything went right for that team. Fans across the world cried foul when they traded for Pau Gasol, the commissioner of the NBA had to step in to stop them from adding Chris Paul - it’s a team that has been stacked with talent and always had people pining to join up with them.
But the tables have turned. And I absolutely love it.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: LeBron James’ coach is on the hot seat
Like a heavy smoker sitting around late at night amidst a cemetery of cigarette butts, LeBron James has racked up quote the body count over the course of his career. Paul Silas, Mike Brown, David Blatt. Say their names with reverence. The only man to escape the King’s wrath so far was Miami Heat coach Eric Spolestra, but not for lack of trying. Here’s the quote from one of the minority owners of the Heat:
“LeBron James – before and after his four seasons when his contract was up with the team – made it clear that he wanted to dump head coach Erik Spoelstra,” ...At one point, (Heat president) Pat Rileycalled LeBron into his office said that no one will tell him how to run the organization. Riley told James that Spoelstra is his guy, and that firing Spoelstra is out of the question.
“That was the main reason LeBron returned to Cleveland.”
Well. Now it seems like James has fired up his infernal machine yet again. With the help of super agent, Rich Paul it sure seems like James’ camp is hellbent on reforming the Lakers. First, client Anthony Davis publically requests a trade, then it “leaks” that not just any trade will do, Davis only wants to go to the Lakers to play with James, the Celtics (with their eminently preferable trade options) are unacceptable apparently.
And then this.
New story: Luke Walton challenged his players to not play selfishly after blowing a 2nd half lead in GSW. Beasley & McGee, in particular, took offense to it. A “heated” exchange ensued and quickly blew over. And time keeps on ticking to the trade deadline https://t.co/58NLVxVIl0— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 3, 2019
As per some anonymous sources, “[T]here is a palpable uneasiness on the roster as the Feb. 7 deadline looms.” Oh? There is, eh?
Conflicting reports from ESPN and the Undefeated would seem to contradict some of this. The initial report, from Shams Charania makes me suspicious. Both he and super tweeter Adrian Wojnarowski have been playing quid pro quo with high powered agents for as long as they’ve been in the business.
A contrast to the weaponized joy here in Golden State
Is it petty to be in on the short-handed Lakers like this after we beat them? Probably... Okay, definitely. But as so much of everyone’s attention is pointed at the unfolding free agency changes looming next season, this all plays a central role in understanding the most important dynamics.
Kevin Durant says there’s a ‘toxic environment’ around LeBron James pic.twitter.com/PkqOSAMeXF— NowThis (@nowthisnews) December 6, 2018
But I’d like to draw your attention to the Golden State Warriors’ star, Stephen Curry. No trade demands, no public (or “leaked”) calls for roster changes.
There’s a deeper philosophy at work here too. In contrast to some of the noise swirling around the underskirts of the league right now, Curry has made his fame working within the systems, rather than trying to rabblerouse more talent around him. Note here the lack of selfishness, the intentional use of “we.”
Promise to all the Warrior fans...we will figure this thing out...if it's the last thing we do we will figure it out— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) November 12, 2009
In last night’s win over the Lakers, Curry went 0-9 over the first 42 minutes or so of the game. Then he scored 10 points in two minutes. What woke him up? What woke up the Warriors was the same sentiment that has fueled this team since they all worked so hard to get Curry his last rebound required to earn a triple double in his rookie year. It’s at the center of everything that makes this team work so well, at the draw that pulls top-tier free agents like Kevin Durant and Demarcus Cousins into the fold. This team roots for each other.
So, as we approach the All Star break without the best record, be happy about where this team is right now. Also, be happy about where this team is headed. As long as our biggest stars are as selfless as they are, everything’s going to be just fine.
As Klay Thompson said in his postgame interview, this is a team that is uniquely focused; and that focus is directly related to how this team has been built and maintained.
“Not many teams believe they have a chance to win a title. We’re one of them. So that’s the only thing on our minds.”
Be like Klay, folks. Trust what this team is, and revel in it.