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Kupchak, Lakers Facing Pressure

December 16, 2011


The Los Angeles Lakers franchise has seen many pressure moments since moving to Staples Center in 1999. The come-from-behind-victory against the Sacramento Kings in 2002 (thank you Robert Horry), the Game 7 comeback versus the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals, how about Kobe Bryant requesting a trade in 2007 while at a strip mall? All of these were nerve-wracking times for Lakers fans. Well, now the organization faces a daunting task never before seen: keeping up with the Los Angeles Clippers (…I never thought I’d ever say that). The team won’t admit it, but allowing the Clippers to be the best team at Staples is just not an option. Make no mistake, Mitch Kupchak and the Laker franchise are under a pressure they have never before seen.

With the exception of 2004, when they made a run to the 2nd round of the playoffs behind Sam Cassell and Elton Brand, I can’t remember a time when the Clippers had a better roster than the Lakers…..till now. On paper, the ‘Clips’ have a more talented lineup than their neighbors down the hall, as well as even more potential for star power. Their major weakness is frontline depth, but the Lakers aren’t much better after trading away forward Lamar Odom. The effects of ‘The Paul Debacle’ are huge and may be felt for years to come…..not unless the Lakers add another superstar (or two…see Blake Griffin and Chris Paul).

There is significant  pressure on GM Mitch Kupchak to bring another franchise player to Lakerland, and some of it is coming from right inside his own organization. Kobe Bryant recently said: “I expect them to still try to be aggressive and make moves to build a championship team. If that’s the case, I’ll stand out of the way and let them do what they do”…translation? you’re on the clock again, Mitch. But I disagree with Stephen A. Smith’s prediction that Bryant will soon request a trade out of frustration with the front office. When asked about the other team in L.A. being more exciting than his own, Kobe said with a huge smile: ”I’m definitely going to watch them, but i’m not concerned about that…I like jewelry.” It hardly sounds like he wants to walk away and leave the city to CP3 and Blake…no way, not this superstar. I can’t see The Black Mamba packing up and walking away from his basketball family (Vanessa Bryant, maybe, but not Kobe Bryant). This is just another challenge for him…and one that he’ll embrace with a passion.

I agree that Bryant is quietly furious these days. But hey, he’s not the only one…Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss feel the exact same way. According to Mitch, the league vetoing their trade for Chris Paul was “completely unexpected.” He added…”we did our best to express our displeasure.” The team didn’t want to move Odom either, especially not to the rival Dallas Mavericks, but it became apparent after a one-on-one meeting with Lamar following the trade fiasco that he could no longer wear the purple n’ gold. Bryant should be blaming the Odom trade on his overly emotional former teammate not his steady and practical general manager. Kupchak’s hand was forced, and Mark Cuban’s deep pockets were the only place to turn to for a quick solution.

Think the Lakers will stand pat? Just ask Pau Gasol. Even he knows that the trade talks will only heat up. When asked about the Orlando Magic reportedly pulling Dwight Howard off the market, said “you don’t know if they’re just saying that…”they’re probably saying that to get a better offer and then pull the trigger.” And when that trigger gets pulled, Pau knows it will be him facing that bullet. It’s so obvious you could call it with braille (Chick Hearn R.I.P.). Gasol reminds me of a soon-to-be father…he’s all packed and ready to go for when he gets that call.

For the first time ever, the big talk in Southern California going into the NBA season is which L.A. team is going to be better. Maybe this is actually a good thing for everyone involved. On teams, competition breeds better play…this same logic should apply to franchises competing.

The Lakers won’t be allowed to rest on their laurels (or rings)…there’s no grandfathering when it comes to playoff seeding.

Pressure may break pipes, but it also makes rivalries.



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19 Responses to Kupchak, Lakers Facing Pressure

  1. Cotilla18 on December 22, 2011 at 7:30 am

    it’ll alwayz be our town, lake show 4 life!

  2. Stuart on December 22, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Martin. I cannot remember a time when the L.A. Lakers faced this much competition from their crosstown rivals. It is a definitely a scary time for Laker fans everywhere. The Clippers are now contenders.

  3. Homer on December 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Amazing article

    • Jenny on December 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Kobe is the next best thing since Michael Jordan, defenitely one of the grteeast to ever do it .. Lebron needs some more time to get there, he doesn’t need to proof anything but he needs more time to get on Kobe’s level.

  4. Paige29 on December 23, 2011 at 10:03 am

    well said. this pressure might be exactly what the lakers need to get them to pull the trigger on dwight howard and start another dynasty!

  5. DJ Trees on December 23, 2011 at 10:14 am

    L.A. will always be Lakers town, always.

  6. Pearl on December 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I may be in the minority, but I believe that the Clippers still have a lot to prove. The Lakers are a proven commodity..

    • Cosmina on July 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      So to the two above.if not Brown who has one of the best winning penrectages in basketball history with a roster of scrubs minus Lebron,who do you think the Lakers should have hired? Lebron left because he knew he was tired of carrying his less talented teammates, who would never get him a ring.The proof,they went from one of the best teams record wise with him to one of the worst w/out him.That Brown won 66 and 61 games his last two seasons with that roster, to me shows he can coach.Rick Adelman,65 years old,never won,Mike Dumbleavy,pleeze,Jeff VanDummy,just listening to him on tv,shows me why he is not coaching.Larry Brown,65 years old and terminally unhappy,Jordan fired him.Shaw,I would have liked to see him get it,but we really dont know what he can do,since he has never been a head coach.I think the Buss’ track record in winning rings should be trusted.The Lakers defense sucked,Brown will fix that and the Lakers will score,they just need to improve the bench with youth and speed to go with Lamar.Do you like this comment?: 0 0nylaconnect

  7. Mizzou on December 25, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Last yr for Christmas Day I asked for Laker tickets, this yr I wanted Clipper tickets.

  8. Trevor Ruffin Smooth on December 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    We will be just fine Martin

  9. Mark Mulholland on December 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm


    • Rendi on July 21, 2012 at 8:03 am

      Tom 7The Lakers need Bryant just as much as he needs them. They in reality can’t suirvve without one another.I think what we’re now seeing from Kobe is a maturity in the player that we’d not necessarily witnessed before. And at the same time the leadership qualities are now there naturally. Hopefully the younger players’ll benefit from this ? tophatal .

  10. Cleveland on January 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Bynum is back now and the “pressure” you are talking about will be a distant memorey. The Clippers will NOT finish ahead of the LAKERS.

  11. greg gattison on January 20, 2012 at 10:36 am

    they should bring jerry west back

  12. Perry 7 on January 21, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Pau Gotta Go!

  13. Paul E on January 26, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Big win by the Lakers. 1-1 season series. go got em’ Pau!

  14. 50 sense on January 28, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Mitch doesn’t get enough love.

  15. King of Akron on February 1, 2012 at 12:11 am

    I wonder how much longer Kupchak will be around. Change is in the air at Staples

  16. Sumeyra on July 17, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Ok like Im a Laker fan?, but MUST tell it like it izzzzz this ?, is miaskte no.2! The 1st one?, was,IS kissin Kobe’s as-s!, letting him run a muck, fkn up EVERY ansemble they’ve have SINCE he’s been here!, inSPITE if the rings accomplished! Sum moe?, they let J.West go!!?? WTF!!?? They pass over Shaw , after they tell him to stick around n shyt!?? Now?, whoEVER’s left?, ain’t gonna wanna play for this dude! And willl set the Lakers back 3 MOE years!! Plus?, whatEVVA due accomplished in Cleveland?, was ONLY due to having L. James! So..WTF is/CAN he do here ! At least James had fresh legs n shyt , while now Kobe?, does NOT! So again WTF!? STUpid shyt!Do you like this comment?: 2 1Taurusingr

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