Winter has well and truly come to California this season.
And with some calling for the King’s exile in this Game of Thrones, heads have also well and truly rolled.
LeBron James is the biggest name in basketball today. But right now be faces missing his first postseason in over a decade, let alone the Finals. Despite Magic’s cast spell in the post Kobe age, this Hollywood script rewrote does not look to have the ending the King James version intended to write.
But there’s still some clock on this. This year and the following ones. This team have been the walking wounded and sitting one. From injuries to kitchen sink trade baits that have thrown everything at them and everyone under the Coach missed team bus. But there’s still hope. The gap in the bench can still be smoothed over despite the splinters.
In this game and this city of movie stars, there’s always hope. Like the desire that somehow, someway Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s characters in ‘La La Land’ get back together. Such is the nature of ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’. And it doesn’t get much crazier than the Lakers right now.
But hold your coat and scarves tight. Because despite the harsh March winter in sunny California as of late at least you can still feel the effects of the drafts. Like a Philadelphia process, the Lakers over the last coming half decade now have made better use of the lottery than Nicolas Cage in ‘It Could Happen To You’. And it could happen to them again this off-season with the way things are tanking at the moment (yeah we wish it was actually tanking and not just plain, actual losing). The Lakers have been so good with their selections their late round draft choices have bloomed almost as well as their top tens, if not in some cases more and better.
Let’s list them for purple heartbreak and gold celebration in order of year. Since 2015 they’ve taken Julius Randle (sniff), Jordan Clarkson (O.K. So who’s cutting onions in here?), D’Angelo Russell (straight out ballin’. And I ain’t just talking about his play right now), Larry Nance Jr. (seriously?), Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac (straight Matthew McConaughey in ‘Interstellar’ watching those home movies in deep space right now). And before the year of the King and these new kids that are more than alright they drafted Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant (just watch a Wizards game and see that Magic pulled a rabbit out the hat with this one and then lost it to another Hogwarts) in the same freaking year.
But alas only Ingram, Kuzma, Ball and Hart remain (not “only”, they’re outstanding). And the Lakers almost offered all of them and the rest of the damn team and real estate in the Hollywood Hills (sorry Jack. Hit the road and pack up. You’re in the trade too) just so the All Star love look of LeBron James and Anthony Davis could partner up for some two on two. And the Pelicans still said “I think we’ll be alright” to this footed bill. N.O.?! Seriously?! I’m just glad we didn’t lose these guys. But in a way, either or we might actually have done anyway. Leaving us much worse off.
I mean would you really give up all these kids for one guy like Anthony Davis who looks to be free to be on his way regardless? Or all the aforementioned for one King like LeBron?
I can’t help think of the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s immortal words in the Brad Pitt, Oakland A’s baseball movie, “you’re killing this team”. But Brad’s Billy Brand actually wasn’t so let’s hope for a Magic master move here.
Thank the Basketball God’s for Moe Wagner.
Yeah I said it.
The former GIF-able, Ronny Turiaf bench presence with the look of a kids face on Christmas who somehow got to sneak onto the Lakers bench has turned into a baby faced assassin. He’s gone from sitting next to the former Shaq and Kobe era dancing king and being the Mark Madsen energy and enthusiasm guy on the pine, to showing that same new generation, Mad Dog hustle on court. Moritz, the former Michigan Wolverine college star is a slasher like Logan and can complete this young core fab four with his small ball length at center and his Brook Lopez ability to hit the open three when scaling back downtown. So why the Lakers had to give up a guy who needs us as much as we need him in the meme team completion of Michael Beasley and Ivica ‘for the love of God do you not see how big this big man was getting’ Zubac, our post Gasol international man (you see that Pop and Pau photo the Bucks posted as they stopped at the Spurs last night Lake Show? Learn from it!) to our crosstown and arena rivals the Clippers. All for some Muscala man we barely use is beyond well even the most messed up trade pitch these too Hollywood for the blue collar Boston run game have dreamed of dry erase drawing up. But I kind of digress.
Moe getting mo’ buckets isn’t just a perimeter presence, he’s an all round collegiate schooled player. Who along with big Isaac Bogna, the sprightly Johnathan Williams and Svi (who we actually decently swapped like for like for Laker lover and three ball devotee Reggie Bullock) shows the Lake Show can even draft well even in the same summer of bringing in the King and the one year vets of JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Bease’ (keep that proud head up legend). They’ve done it again. This team has bigger balls than an unflinching Kobe when before they were teammates Matt Barnes tried to inbound the ball into his face.
You saw the flagrant disrespect and foul by Draymond Green on a hard fought lay-up that Moe completed, shouting with anger and the and one you can’t stop me defiance. Kid just wants to play and show his worth with the big boys. And boy is he. Now that Brandon Ingram and probably Lonzo Ball are shut down for the season (please don’t let this be the last time they ever wear purple and gold), Kyle Kuzma is out injured too (seriously the look of the Lakers this year. Give some leeway). And in the latest storied Celtics clash the Lakers dropped 120-107, more people were interested in trying to see what LeBron was saying to former Cavalier teammate and free agent to be Kyrie postgame as he pulled that ‘Casino’ behind the jersey cheap talk trick again. But I’m more interested in Moe Wagner said to Coach Walton when Luke told him he was starting in place of Kuz, calling him up like a South Bay Caruso or G-League Ingram for his moment and asked Moe if he was ready.
Wagner who has been wagging his tail on the bench all season is a dog and said nothing. He just went out and Chris Pratt in ‘Moneyball’ went out and swung big and struck (and we all know what happened to that Guardian when we went out the Galaxy). A career high 22 points to go along with 8 rebounds in his first start? That’s practically a 20 and 10.
We need more guys like Moe.
The King’s Garden Bites Forbidden Fruit In The Big Apple
Super Mario smashed ‘Bron.
On a Sunday afternoon in New York’s Madison Square Garden this St Patrick’s Day (side note: Nike need to bring back those great green Paddy’s Day NBA uniforms), the Lakers where in their East Coast equivalent big city to pay a visit to the Knickerbockers Mecca.
M.S.G. usually plays host to the greatest games from the G.O.A.T.’s over the generations out the service elevator. M.J. Kobe. And now L.A.L. legend to be L.B.J. against the N.Y.K. And LeBron James didn’t disappoint with a Kareem 33 points off devastating dunks off rampaging runs down the floor of the World’s Most Famous Arena like a raging bull. Shouting “AND ONE” on foul calls that even people with bleeding noses sitting up in the Gods could hear (and how about a couple plays before an equally as loud Caurso yelping for the lay-up as hilariously as his “what’s up man, I’m Alex” Ringer soundbite spoof? But 5 steals and 3 blocks to go with that many rebounds plus add that up “AND ONE” for 12 points in the game? Never send him down to the G again). That was until he took the final shot at the horn that blared in his face.
It’s been that kind of season for the King by royal appointment. Anthony Davis and potentially missing the playoffs and all that.
Heavy is the head in this Game of Thrones.
Like Jordan vs Kobe, the Knicks came away with the 124-123 win. And in the clutch, the King going for the games crown slipped as he ended up looking as good as one of his free throws. Driving the lane and taking it to the rack before being denied by the Knicks Mario Hezonja. Who with this big block became the Knicks new right hand man.
Off Broadway the King tried to Kong his way up the Empire State but this time the Bi-Planes normally swatted away shot him down.
‘Bron isn’t the only one who makes clutch blocks as big as a buzzer beating basket. Sometimes others hold it against him.
The Lakers 31-39 record is staring down elimination on the wrong side of .500. And with the game down the barrell L.B.J. went for the fadeaway like M.J. but couldn’t come up with ‘Space Jam’ too. As a matter of fact after a big game against the rotten 14-56 Knicks (on the free falling off the Chrysler wrong side of .500) where he also collected 8 rebounds almost on his way to a double/double, LeBron went fourth and colder in the final quarter than a text back from your significant other that just says “fine” when you ask if they’re ok and how their day was. With just four made baskets in the fourth period and the Lake Show missing their last six attempts it was all fat lady in Manhattan come the early evening afternoons end.
Right about now with most teams claiming their playoff berth, last year’s finalist and all the King’s men are just getting worse.
Even with a Garden state of mind in New York, New York, the King couldn’t keep his Empire going like Jussie Smollett.
Now there are only a few more notes before she sings again, but this time for the last time.
And that will be all she writes.
Time for Hollywood to hit the road and flip the script.
Every good movie ends with a twist.
The Lakers Couldn’t Randle The Truth
45 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
I don’t mean to go on about this but DAMN!
A career high 45 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
That’s MVP numbers right there.
And that’s just the kind of king season Julius Randle is having.
I mean right now the Lakers should probably trade their whole roster for this New Orleans Pelican and not fellow Kentucky ‘cat Anthony Davis (who was out last night in the 122-110 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Probably with “load management”). But I know who most Lakers fans would love to trade him for just to get this guy back.
But after bringing the King to Hollywood this Summer, Magic and the Lake Show didn’t think they needed to match the restricted hustle and muscle of Randle, who they are sorely missing in their palette dry paint this season. Despite pleading from the coaching staff, President Johnson and his Hollywood agent of assistance let both Randle and big man from downtown Brook Lopez (who is really affording more with the Bucks alongside…Pau Gasol of all underrated and underappreciated Laker greats) walk. All because the thought the former Heat talents of Michael Beasley was enough on a team of McGee, Stephenson and Rondo vets behind the young core that really are now turning into a meme.
Remember this is the same Magic man who traded All-Star…ALL STAR D’Angelo Russell because he didn’t think he was a leader. As the purple and gold Lakers faithful now have no sleep watching him in Brooklyn as he LEADS the Nets.
This is the same Magic man who after offering his whole future to the Pelicans for a free agent to be with desires to come here for nothing (at least before all this drama and disloyalty really showed him something), will soon surely watch the legendary likes of Lonzo, Ingram and maybe even Kuzma and Josh Hart walk when they’re free to go, after the way they have treated them. Because like it’s been shown before time and time again in Laker history (I would name every example, but then I would be naming every other player not called Kobe), there is no price on loyalty. But there is one to pay when you treat these teammates like a commodity and not the individual assets that they are.
There’s only so long someone treated as bait will let you off the hook.
Magic Johnson may be the greatest player of all-time in my opinion. In some ways even more gifted than the other M.J. He could effect a whole game and result without even scoring a basket. But now he’s really playing. Effecting the whole team and franchise whilst trying to make a point. Just how long will he last running this s### show. Remember how long he lasted when he was actually a coach?
And he wants to fire Walton?!
And soon the likes of Ball and his boys will end up All Stars like Randle will too. The Lakers need to make sure that they do this in purple before the Lake Show turns into the ‘Lame Show’. As once the gold goes out the crown, the Lakers legacy will be down to the hands of more than one legend.
A legend they could have had in Russell and Randle. With guys like they have now and the ones they also shouldn’t have let go. Like Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Thomas Bryant and Ivica Zubac. Paul George would have been a better fit with all these core guys. But the Lakers didn’t even really need him either. With all due respect to the King and the next chapter in storied Lakers/Celtics history the NBA tried to build, both these iconic franchises and their great expectations have imploded this season. Ones of win big now or else, manifest destiny over pure personnel development. The real rivalry of the future would have been the lottery pick rebuilds of the old young Laker and the history making right now Philadelphia 76ers. Look at the stakes they have now. There’s a reason they call it a process.
Still the Lakers loss is the flying Pelicans gain. And even if they do lose Davis they have a big future in the big man Julius. And if New Orleans do end up taking half the Laker team for him, maybe along with Julius Randle it will all end up being the Basketball Gods master plan in the karma (it all goes around like a basketball spinning on your finger) of showing the Lakers what they could have had and won in the end.
How many stars of future fame will Magic’s Hollywood let walk?
45 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
Sometimes you can’t handle the truth Jack.
And that is Julius Randle.
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