Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Summer of LeBron James...and the Crazies

Oh yes, it's happened again. The Lakers managed to sign the best player in free agency in LeBron James, who some still consider the best in the league. What seemed an impossibility a few years ago, has become a reality: LeBron James will don the purple and gold, and once again the Lakers are contenders. 


Despite what some may think of LeBron signing with the team, there is no doubt that Lakers fans everywhere will welcome him into the fold. They have been yearning to get back into the playoffs, and with LeBron, they're guaranteed a return to the post season. 

Thankfully Los Angeles has a proven history of luring the best players out of other cities:

In 1968 we convinced Wilt Chamberlain to leave the hoagie sandwiches in Philly.

In 1975 we lured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out of frigid Milwaukee.

In 1982 we saved Bob McAdoo from fading away into, well, oblivion.

 In 1996 we hijacked Shaquille O' Neal out of Orlando

And in that same summer the Lakers, in a trade, stole a kid named Kobe Bryant from Charlotte by giving them Vlade Divac.

Last but not least the Lakers persuaded the Grizzlies to give us Pau Gasol in 2007, for among other things, Pau's younger brother Marc.

We've been fortunate to attract the very best, and LeBron certainly qualifies under that criteria. Yet there are those among you who've cried "blasphemy!" and have threatened to throw away your Lakers fan card. 

Defaced Lakers Mural Featuring LeBron

Being a Lakers fan since 1977, I've seen it all. This is a sport, and it's a business. And in Los Angeles, the business is to get busy winning championships. Need a reminder of what we've been missing?

The 11 Los Angeles and 5 Minneapolis Lakers Championship Banners

You don't like LeBron? Why? 
"He'll never replace Kobe!
Please!!!! LeBron credits part of his success because of Kobe. He's said as much himself. 

 LeBron has Repeatedly Praised Kobe and Cited Him As An Inspiration
In a 2016 Daily News interview he said "I knew I had to be better because of Kobe Bryant. I knew he was in the gym and I knew he was working on his game. So every day that I didn't want to work out or every day I felt like I couldn't give more, I always thought of Kobe. Because I knew that he was getting better and I was like, ‘Man, if you take a day off, he's going to take advantage of it.'"

Kobe gave his blessing to newest Laker, and ceremonially passed the torch, just as other many other greats have done before him. 

And if you give any credence to the Shaq-fueled rumor below, then Kobe can pass that torch directly to LeBron on the court.  

Ah...but I'm dreaming, so let's get back to reality. 

As the LeBron Circus and Sideshow pulled into town last month, it didn't take too long before he attracted some of the clowns and jesters of the 2018 free agency class.

As you can see in the picture below, these four nut jobs (who'll I'll rename the LeBron Crazies) signed with the Lakers for the upcoming season.

The LeBron Crazies!
My question is this: who brought the pipe to the Lakers executive think tank this summer? Two months ago, you'd have been labeled insane to suggest any one of these guys would be wearing the purple and gold in the upcoming season.

What We're They Thinking?
Once we acquired LeBron, many Lakers fans quickly scanned Twitter, the Bleacher Report Website, and other various forms of social media to see who'd sign next. And lo and behold! The first free agent to ink a deal after LeBron was: Lance Stephenson? 

Then they signed JaVale McGee. Then Rajon Rondo. And for good measure the Lakers rounded out their July by signing Michael Beasley. All four were signed to one-year deals, so they'll be off the payroll by next June.

At one time or another, each one of these guys had a great upside. But here in 2018, I have a few concerns:
One once tried to blow in LeBron's ear in the playoffs
Another was monthly fodder on Shaq's Shaqtin' A Fool show.

Another has been a head case from time to time, which left teammates wondering about his mindset.
The last one has had run-ins with the law for speeding with a suspended license while carrying a loaded gun, and other various infractions.

All have proven talent, each has intriguing promise, and........each has one arm and a leg in a straight jacket. But I'll give credit where it's due. McGee and Rondo have championship rings, and Beasley has apparently cleaned up his act. And Stephenson? Despite the way he's treated LeBron in the past, he says he's looking forward to being his team mate. 

It might work. Michael Jordan needed Dennis Rodman...

 ...and Kobe needed Ron Artest.

All of this should make for an exciting season, and a packed house every night.
Maybe the Lakers brass isn't so crazy after all.

Perhaps LeBron is the linchpin in all this insanity. Maybe he and his crazy-cast of veterans can work with our young, aspiring stars to make a deep run into the playoffs.

The Lakers and Magic Johnson delivered the goods in LeBron, and a few damaged goods with the Crazies. Now let's see what they can do.

Till next time...


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