Basketball Magazine

How the Los Angeles Lakers Have Self-Destructed

By Beardandstache @BeardAndStache

How the Los Angeles Lakers Have Self-Destructed

Photo: Getty Images

- Troy Ballard
I suppose all good things must come to an end -- but never in my wildest dreams had I imagined the collapse of the Los Angeles Lakers to be this swift.
There was an era where the Lake-Show was nothing short of unstoppable, and now, I watch as the team has fallen apart like a group of poorly coached high school kids.
Los Angeles has lost the mental toughness that comes with a Kobe Bryant-led team. It used to be that down 15 on the road -- no problem. Down three with no time left on the clock -- the Lakers still have it. Triple overtime against a younger and more agile team -- LA was right there.
Not anymore.
That toughness has faded into a dull and anticipatory team that has taken the stance of, 'let's see if Kobe can score 80 a night and win the game himself.' Whatever has happened to Pau Gasol is beyond my comprehension, and Andrew Bynum still has yet to show any amount of consistency.
Beyond Bryant and the other two disappointments, the Lakers have who? Ramon Sessions? Steve Blake? Jordan Hill? Devin Ebanks?
Give me a break.
Without Pau-Pau and Andrew putting up decent numbers, Bryant is forced into becoming a one-man army. And as good as the Mamba can be, it's impossible to push the entire load of multiple NBA Playoff series onto him and expect LA to come out on top.
The Lakers may have been able to stumble by a young and growing Denver Nuggets team in the first-round, but had LA ran directly into the young-guns in OKC. It was Thunder vs. Lakers, a series that experts had been drooling about since the opening tip-off of the regular season.
To say that the series didn't live up to the hype would be a shocking understatement.
The Lakers were nearly swept by Oklahoma City in what was an absolute embarrassment of the franchise. The only player in Los Angeles trying to win was Bryant -- and yet fans and the media crucify him -- with the rest of the team tagging along for the ride.
There will always be the fans that cry wolf and claim that Kobe doomed the Lakers by not passing the ball and being too aggressive on offense. This excuse would be perfect if against the Nuggets, Bryant didn't prove why he had to be the only one taking shots. He's the only one that can score.
Mike Brown has proven once again that he is nothing more than a product of LeBron James, and he has little real coaching ability. The amount of questionable moves that Brown made in those five-games nearly rival his abysmal wardrobe, and I wish all the blame could be pushed onto him -- but that's just not the case.
Los Angeles has been living in a fantasy world: We missed out on CP3, so acquiring Ramon Sessions solves that need, right? Pau Gasol was already technically traded once, and he's likely really unhappy, but hey, what do we have to lose? Andrew Bynum is about as mature as my five-year-old nephew, but the potential is still there, isn't it? Kobe Bryant's only what, 20? 
Here's the worst part about the denial -- the Lakers are so cap-restricted that any moves that might genuinely improve the team are totally off the table! It's like LA's front office has backed themselves so far into the hole that upon looking around the group said, 'screw it, we're this far in, what would another few million hurt?'
There is more than enough jokes about how the Lakers are going to trade away the entire roster outside of Bryant, but the truth is -- no one wants the players LA has. The only two pieces that are even slightly appealing are Bynum and Gasol, and the value for both is going to be so appallingly low, the Lakers won't get fair-value in return!
Congrats, Lakers. You have managed to ride the Kobe train all the way to the last stop: Failure! There's almost nothing that can be done at this point. Gasol should have been moved last year, Bynum should have been dealt after his third major meltdown, and Bryant shouldn't be forced to be the only one in LA.
The Los Angeles Lakers have destroyed themselves, and there's no one else to blame.

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