You don’t need to be an NBA insider to know there is some serious drama simmering in the Los Angeles Lakers organization. In the last week we’ve seen Metta World Peace and Mike Brown at odds over playing time, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant at odds with management over trade rumors and Mitch Kupchak at odds with Bryant over the handling of trade speculation.
All those issues led to team leaders Bryant and Derek Fisher calling a players-only meeting after last night’s defeat of the Portland Trailblazers. Since this report comes from one of those anonymous sources we can’t truly know what went on behind closed doors.
What we can do is look at the recent facts to surmise what was said. You’ve got to believe this was an effort to get everyone on the roster to focus in on the task at hand. As the season hits the halfway point the Lakers inconsistent play relative to home and away games surely suggests there are serious distractions.
Another topic that needed to be discussed was the public manner in which Laker players have been expressing their frustrations. Andrew Bynum’s venting on Mike Brown’s practice habits was swept under the rug thanks to Kobe’s dig at management over the Gasol rumors. While the national media didn’t run with Bynum’s blues the rest of the team heard it loud and clear.
Clearly there are some deeply rooted issues plaguing this team. The departure of Phil Jackson, the reduced involvement of Jerry Buss and the lockout shortened preseason have greatly affected the team chemistry. Coach Brown has done a good job all things being considered but being in a position of leadership does not entail being a leader. Not taking a dig at Brown, just saying that he hasn’t had the proper allotment of time to assert himself.
The leaders of this team called a meeting for a very specific reason. The season is on the brink and something must be done. Whether or not the roster we see now is the one that will finish the season in unknown. Therefore it is up to every man in that locker room to give it their all on every occasion as tomorrow is not promised.
Normally you’d have to wait and see how a meeting like this affects the prospects. With the cramped schedule we’ll find out very soon. Dates in Dallas and Oklahoma City will reveal the true character of this squad going forward.