One of the greatest pleasures for a Celtics fan, perhaps only second to raising a championship banner, is to see some discomfort going on in the Lakers organization. Only a year a half ago, there was talk of the new dynasty for the LA Lakers following back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. However, the dynasty talk suddenly has dwindled, and our foes on the West Coast may be squirming a bit. Better yet, it may potentially involve some acrimony between LA's also-aging superstar, Kobe Bryant, and the vaunted LA management again.
Admittedly, the speculation by talking heads at ESPN is based on some hyperbole from some disconnected media bites. . . . it references the story from 2007 when Kobe demanded a trade because he was upset with the front office at the time. Later that year, the Lakers followed up with the miraculous trade for Pau Gasol, and then after getting dispatched in the Finals by the Celtics in 2008, the Lakers won two titles in a row . . . leaving them one short of the Celtics' 17 banners, despite the now-retired Phil Jackson's best coaching efforts.
The critical sound bite that got Stephen A. Smith of ESPN going was what Kobe Bryant said after Lamar Odom was traded this week to the Dallas Mavericks, the team that knocked the Lakers out of the play-offs in 2011. Apparently Kobe not only lost a compatriot in Odom, but he felt the Lakers didn't get adequate value with the return of a protected 1st round draft pick and a sizable $9M trade exception. Kobe's quote referenced by Stephen A.:
"I don't like it. I've known Lamar for a long time, and for the team itself, he's meant a lot in terms of his versatility, his personality. He's a big presence for us in the locker room, just from a team chemistry standpoint. He's great at bringing guys together and things of that nature. I trust management knows what they're doing. I let them do their jobs, I never get in the way but it's tough. You're talking about sixth man of the year last year. He played lights out."
That sentiment and the 2007 disgruntled behavior lead Stephen A. to say on Thursday:
"I predicted that Kobe Bryant will demand a trade, and I am not budging from that. He's livid. I've known Kobe too long. He is ticked off. It's not just because [the Clippers] got Chris Paul, which is a guy that he expected to have. It's because Jim Buss seems to be doing the inexplicable. It makes no sense. It's one thing for the team not to have improved [after losing to the Mavericks], it's another thing entirely for them to regress. If you know anything about Kobe, that is the last thing that he wants to do. It will not be pleasant at all."
So if you know a LA fan, offer to give them a hug. Because it's tough being a Lakers fan right now. Meanwhile, when with your Celtics brethren, toast David Stern for nixing the original Chris Paul to LA trade. As we approach the New Year, let's also hope that the Lakers "rebuilding-on-the-run" effort doesn't snatch them Dwight Howard and out-pace Danny Ainge's re-invention scheme for the Celtics for the 2012-13 season . . . after Banner 18 is hung of course.
The following is not for the squeamish of Celtics fans . . . the outbreak of Kobe for MVP chants heard at the Garden on January 31, 2007 . . . and Justin Poulin's subsequent meltdown on his way out to Causeway Street if it weren't for his friends from Celtics17 . . .