3 Things the Lakers Should Do Right Now to Get to the Playoffs (Hopefully)
From the comfort of my couch, I offer advice to my favorite team.
The Lakers are my team and they always will be. Win or lose, at home or in the stands, I will be enthusiastically rooting for them while waving a gaudy metaphoric foam finger and chanting, “Go, go, go, you magnificent bastards!”
But right now things aren’t looking good. Even I admit that this season they have been surprisingly inconsistent, sometimes playing like Olympian gods of basketball, and other times like they have a sucking chest wound. All eyes are on them to see if they make it out of the Play-In tournament to make an underdog run for the NBA Championship.
The first thing disappointed fans and couch coaches like to do is assign blame to individuals. That approach is too simplistic and doesn’t take into account the intricacies of everything that goes on in forming a championship team. That’s why I want to state right up front that no individual is to blame, but rather the circumstances that affect individuals.
I don’t envy head coach Frank Vogel. The head coach job is a little like trying to defuse a complex bomb with nail clippers while running full speed down a steep hill made of butter. He has to cut the right wire—despite everyone yelling at him to “Cut the red wire, no the blue, no the red!”—while staying gracefully on his feet. Sometimes you cut the right wire—and sometimes you’re blown off the court.
I don’t have a bubbling magic potion, bloody ancient rituals, or guttural secret words to incant to fix the Lakers’ problems. Though right now, that seems like what it will take, I still believe in good fundamental strategies and team basics. This is not Star Trek’s inscrutable Kobayashi Maru. There are solutions. And the Lakers have some of the most talented players in the NBA. So, even though no one asked me, here are three suggestions of how the team might improve the remainder of the season, based only my observations and without any insider information.
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LeBron Needs to Take Charge
A lot of people are making a big deal out of LeBron James’s age. Believe me, I know something about playing with an aging body. I retired from the NBA when I was 42. LeBron is only 37, so by that measure, he still has plenty of time left. Plus, he’s only about 1,400 points from beating my all-time scoring record, which I am cheering him on to do. He’s a relentless, powerful player who has a lot yet to accomplish. We’ve watched him in years past carry whole teams to playoffs and championships and I don’t think he’s past the ability to still do that. He’s the Incredible Hulk of basketball, but with Bruce Banner’s brains. The man deserves his own Marvel movie.
However, the Lakers team isn’t playing like a well-oiled machine that know instinctively what each other is going to do. They seem rattled by their losses and lack confidence against teams they should easily defeat. LeBron sometimes looks openly frustrated. I don’t blame him. Much of the Lakers’ Job-like problems, like a plethora of injuries, is happenstance. Completely out of anyone’s control. But that’s part of professional sports. All that teams can control is how they react to the challenges. In this case, LeBron is such a charismatic force who always gives his all that he can inspire players to weather the stormy seas and navigate them to victory.