This is the Lakers future: Rob Pelinka. Pelinka is the man responsible for the single most destructive action in Los Angeles Lakers’ history: the two year, $48.5 million contract given to Kobe Bryant in 2013 after he was worse than washed up. As his reward, now he is named the Lakers’ general manager. What are his qualifications? Here they are, listed in order of importance:
You read that right. He has no qualifications to be the general manager of a major sports team. He’s a sports agent, period. That’s all he’s ever done, except graduate from law school. Radio comedian Fred Allen aptly described agents when he said that they have “all the sincerity in Hollywood you could stuff in a flea’s navel and still have room left to conceal eight caraway seeds and an agent’s heart.” Why was this particular person even considered for such a position?
But that’s Jeanie Buss’s decision. Or was it? She had already hired another greenhorn, Magic Johnson, to be the Lakers’ “President of Basketball Operations.” Don’t you get a kick out of these high-falutin’ titles? “President of Basketball Operations” for a basketball team? What in the world does that mean? What other operations do the Lakers have, apart from being a basketball team. Now, after several years of operation by Jerry Buss’s progeny, they could really more appropriately be called an “alleged basketball team,” because there is not a worse performing team in the league.
Jeanie has really been given a pass because she could blame all the Lakers’ woes on her inept brother. But she was the boss. She sat there shaking and inert as her brother made one inane decision after another and the Lakers sank deeper and deeper into ignominy.
Now she’s picked two neophytes to make all the decisions. What’s the differentiation between Magic’s “President of Basketball Operations” and Pelinka’s “General Manager?” Who makes the decisions? Too bad they can’t hire a guy who knows what he’s doing, like Jerry West. But when West hinted he’d like to come back to the Lakers in 2011, Paterfamilias Buss was grooming his son Jim and apparently thought that West would be a hindrance, so West signed on with the Golden State Warriors, and look what they’ve become. As the Warriors rose, the Lakers sank.
Johnson’s first move was to dump the Lakers’ best player, leaving them with a team that would be hard pressed to beat good college teams. Then came the decision bringing Pelinka on board. Good luck, Lakers’ fans.
As an afterword, I have heard that Jerry Buss left the Lakers to his children in a tontine-like arrangement (the last to survive gets it all) and that the interest of each is non-negotiable, meaning they can’t sell. How stupid is that, if true?
Stupid NCAA Rules: Every year at this time it is incumbent upon me to rise up in protest about the dumbest rule in sport, the “alternate possession rule” in college basketball. Anytime there occurs a situation that used to result in a jump ball, like a defensive player tying up the offensive player, the ball should be awarded to the defense because it has done something right and the offense has done something wrong. It makes no sense to alternate possession in these situations, and give the ball right back to the offending team half the time.
March Madness destroys the integrity of the basketball season: Last weekend saw the end of the “conference tournaments” in which every conference has a tournament. Let’s face it, basketball conferences are meaningless nowadays. The games and standings played throughout the year are hollow. It used to be that to qualify for the NCAA Tournament one had to be a conference champion. March Madness changed all that. Now fully 20 percent of Division I teams qualify; 32 conference champions and 36 who are chosen subjectively. What that means is that a team like South Dakota State, which this year would have a chance to win the tournament only if hell actually froze over, given its record of 18-16 (that’s right, a 16 game loser), is in the NCAA Championship tournament. I know, there’s lots of money in March Madness. But is that what college sports is all about? That might sound naïve, but I think it shouldn’t be about money. As the Bible says, the love of money is the root of all evil. And, yes, I can whistle “Dixie.”
Tony Medley is the author of three books including “UCLA Basketball: The Real Story,” the first book written on UCLA basketball. Visit TonyMedley.com.