All Ball Sport: Truly delusional Lakers hatch a nepo baby

Paddlers round the R10 buoy off of Palos Verdes on the way back to the start/finish at Torrance Beach during the R10 Paddleboard Race on Saturday morning. The 8 mile race drew over 100 prone and stand-up paddlers. Jack Bark of Torrance, finished first in the open division. DJ Wilson, of Manhattan Beach, finished first in the women’s open division. The race was organized by the South Bay Boardriders Club. SBBC’s next race is the Rock2Rock on Sunday, July 14. The 22-mile Rock2Rock starts at Two Harbors on Catalina Island, and finishes at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. For more information, visit SouthBayBoardridersClub.org. Drone photo by Ken Pagliaro (KenPagliaro.com)

by Paul Teetor

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss should just get it over with and change her team’s name to the Los Angeles LeBrons.

It would make more sense than the current name, which goes all the way back to 1959, when the team was based in Minneapolis, Minnesota – the land ‘o lakes. When they moved here in 1960 they never bothered to change the name to something more fitting, like the LA Stars or the LA Freeway.

So now that the team has completely handed its power over to LeBron James, they should make the name change official: The LA LeBrons.

Catchy, isn’t it? 

It was inspired by General Manager Rob Pelinka’s latest and most blatant capitulation to LeBron: drafting his oldest son, Bronny James, with the 55th pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.

Let’s stipulate one thing right away: Bronny James is a fine young man. Raised the right way, hardworking and respectful to his elders. No sense of entitlement, no I’m-better-than-you attitude.

But as a basketball player who averaged 4.8  points and 2.8 rebounds in his one season at USC – where he never even started a single game — no way is he remotely ready to play in the NBA. Nor is he likely a prospect that could eventually be developed into a legit NBA player. At 6-foot-1 he would have to be the world’s greatest shooter or the world’s greatest athlete to compete against bigger and stronger NBA players.

He is neither. Just a decent college player who might be pretty good by the time his senior season rolls around in 2027.

And yet minutes after the draft Pelinka was selling the father-son pairing as not just historic – it’s the first time in NBA history a father will play with his son – but as something out of a Disney movie, a grand spectacle that Laker fans will want to be a part of.

“This feels like something that can be magical,” Pelinka said. “NBA history should be made in a Lakers uniform.”

Then he went on to prove that he is truly delusional.

“The biggest moments in sports happen with the Lakers, and that’s how we’re built, and we’re excited to see this story unfold,” he said.

Fact check: the Lakers have finished higher than sixth place in the Western Conference exactly once since Jeanie took over from her father, the late, great Jerry Buss in 2013. For the last decade, the biggest moments in the NBA have happened in places like Boston, Denver, San Francisco, Miami and Milwaukee. 

Not Los Angeles.

And he dismissed those who rightly worry that Bronny isn’t prepared for the circus atmosphere sure to confront the Lakers everywhere they go.

“Growing up as he’s grown up, there’s a fish bowl, lots of eyes looking at everything you do, he’s been able to handle all of that with an extreme maturity,” Pelinka said.

Second fact check: during his years at Sierra Canyon High School and during his one year at USC, Bronny was largely shielded from the media – especially after he suffered a cardiac arrest during pre-season practice at USC. He spent the next five months recovering and missed the first seven games of the season – yet another reason it is so foolish for LeBron and his agent Rich Paul to be fast-tracking his  career. Let the kid breathe for a couple of years, recover his sense of physical wellbeing and have some success — and then see if he is ready for the pro game.

Now let us recap events since LeBron arrived in the summer of 2018. That first season they paired him with the young guys they had been developing for several years. But when they missed the playoffs Lebron insisted they trade most of them for Anthony Davis, the star of a New Orleans Pelicans team that was going nowhere. 

The next season was the pandemic season that was cut in half and finished in the fall with all the playoff teams stuck inside a closed, sterile Florida gym with no fans. LeBron was desperate to win another title while he had Davis as a wingman and he drove his team to a tainted title that no one else cared about because they just wanted to get the hell out of that hot and humid gym.

That turned out to be the one and only title LeBron would win with the Lakers. A year after that title he insisted they fire Frank Vogel as coach. Meanwhile, Pelinka let valuable role players like Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope walk because he couldn’t or wouldn’t pay them what they were worth on the open market.

Then when it became clear that the roster they had wasn’t nearly good enough to win anything, LeBron insisted they trade the rest of their good young players – like Kyle Kuzma – to bring in Russell Westbrick.

Everybody – even Pelinka – thought the ball-dominant Westbrook was not a good fit alongside the ball dominant LeBron. But LeBron insisted he could make it work, said he had met with Westbrook and they had reached an understanding.

The Westbrook trade was an unmitigated disaster and by the time it was over the two  alpha males were not speaking to each other. In the last game before the trade deadline Westbrook physically challenged Coach Darvin Ham in the locker room. In the end, the Lakers had to throw in a precious first round draft pick just to get Utah to take Westbrook in a trade.

Then Ham got fired and they hired Lebron’s podcast partner as their new coach after an embarrassing and chaotic seven-week search.

Next season, thanks to LeBron the shadow GM, the Lakers will have a coach who has never coached, a nepo baby who doesn’t deserve to be there and is sure to generate resentment and hostility among players who think they should be playing instead of him, and a team that will be a year older than last season’s team that stumbled into the play-in tournament, won their play-in game, and got crushed by Denver in the first round of the real playoffs.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your 2024-25 LA LeBrons: where every day is take your kid to work day.

Contact: teetor.paul@gmail.com. ER

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