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Old 06-22-2006, 12:05 AM   #1
buckeyefan78
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Default The circle is complete: Trading Shaq was the wrong thing to do

The official thread to go over the tedious details of why now it can officially be said trading Shaq and keeping Kobe was a mistake for the Lakers. Some of this info is redundant by necessary. I'm going to start off of a question posed by Shawn in The Finals thread...

*Buckeye, I was just curious.. regarding your new signature..
Do you really feel that the Lakers with Shaq and without Kobe would have done any better than they did with Kobe and without Shaq?
Also bare in mind that Shaq became motivated to get back in shape after the trade and after Riley, so to be fair you would have to imagine Shaq + 50 lbs again.... or perhaps try imagining the Miami Heat without their MVP Dwyane Wade....
I mean I know you love ripping on the Lakers, I just don't think it's a fair argument, but maybe I'm missing something...*

The first thing we have to do accept the fact that the two superstars couldn't coexist on the same team anymore after the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the 2004 Finals. I think we can all agree on that. To the manifesto...

Jerry West's Role: I'm not going to go into great detail on how we got to the point of hopelessness between the two stars, but the departure of Jerry West in official capacity after the 2000 NBA Finals was the beginning of the end of the Laker dynasty and in reality...the greatness of the franchise. West served as a "consultant" to the Lakers until he took the job as president of the Grizzlies in April of 2002 (mere weeks before the Lakers won their last title). The Lakers have never won a championship in L.A. without West involved in the team in some capacity.

West has a very tense and rigid personality. He is a hard read, cold, offends others and is easily offended. No matter, the man is a genius and delivers championships on platters. People need to put up with him...not the other way around.

During the late 90s, West would routinely talk about retirement every spring only to return the next year. A rift occurred between owner Jerry Buss and GM West when in 1997, Buss declined to give West a bonus that the GM felt he earned (can't recall the details...not important). West is known for relating monetary compensation with respect. Tension between the two grew again when Buss brought in Dennis Rodman despite West's fierce opposition to the move.

Despite West's public praise of Buss and his "official" stance that he was "burned out," the real reason he left the Lakers was that Buss continually denied West a piece of ownership in the franchise and failed to respect him properly when Phil Jackson arrived.

It all started when Buss gave a minimal part of the team to Magic Johnson. Magic had not played nearly the role that West had in his post-playing days in continuing the greatness of the franchise. Buss had always had a great relationship with Magic (much like the one he currently has with Kobe). Allowing Magic ownership and not West was a huge insult.

When the Lakers hired Phil Jackson in 1999, West finally received a pay raise that he had been asking for. West took this as an insult. They brought in Phil for $30 million so they bumped up West's salary to $1 million. Insult indeed. You weren't going to match Phil's salary, but throwing West a few hundred thousand dollars AFTER hiring Phil to appease him is not how you show respect and loyalty. West was against the hiring of Jackson and did not care for his personality or coaching style. Bringing in Jackson was the wrong thing to do despite the Lakers winning 3 titles with him. Jackson had no ties to the organization and was a coach (who have a short life). West had earned the right to have at least SOME say in who the Lakers hired (IMO...he should have had FULL say). Here is where Buss really began to show his propensity to favor individuals who while clearly winners (Phil Jackson and Magic Johnson), didn't have the track record of Jerry West. Buss is easily manipulated IMO. Fortunately, those who have manipulated him have been winners themselves (Magic Johnson, Bill Sharman, Chick Hearn...yes Chick was instrumental).

In any event, it was the fault of Buss that West left the team contrary to what is said publicly. The importance of West leaving is monumental. He was the medium between Shaq and Kobe. It was his prescence that kept the two together. It was West who kept Shaq motivated and focused (as well as Phil Jackson to a lesser degree). The two had a special bond. In fact, when West would consider retirement every spring it would be the thought of his promise to Shaq of a world championship that would always bring him back to the front office. It is important to note that while West had a good relationship with Bryant, it wasn't nearly like the one he shared with Shaq. When West left, Shaq and Kobe were left to fight for the admiration of Jerry Buss and it would be Kobe who would win.

We'll stop there so anyone can question what I've written so far.
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:13 AM   #2
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From what I understand, Jim Buss (Jerry's son and assistant to the GM if I'm not mistaken) had something to do with Jerry's significance being diminished.

Also, I love the logo as much as the next person, but the team he has assembled in Memphis is good, but nothing extraordinary.
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:23 AM   #3
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The entire Buss family have too much power within the organization. They get their egos from the old man. The relationship between Phil and Jeanie Buss was said to be secretly released to the press by West. I'll make it simple (and you can tell this from the 04 press conference with Phil after the Lakers lost the Finals as the kiddies stood there): If you don't kow tow to Buss and his family around the office, you aren't in. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kupchak replaced by Jim in the near future. He will be taking the place of the old man once he decides to retire to the looney bin.

I vaguely recall reading an article (not sure if it was L.A. Times or another so. Cal outlet) that Jim was the one who wanted Rudy T. after Phil left.

Last edited by buckeyefan78; 06-22-2006 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 06-22-2006, 03:35 PM   #4
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Buckeye,

You had to know that I was going to chime in.

I think this will be a fun-read, and although I may take you to task sometimes, hopefully it won't get personal.

Anyway...

I also credit Jerry West with assembling the parts that enabled the Los Angeles Lakers to go on and win three NBA Championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He signed Shaquille O'Neal as a free agent and made the trade for Kobe Bryant. I also know from published reports that West was a mentor to both O'Neal and Bryant, and contributed in making sure that level-heads prevailed from the infighting between the two superstars in the organization.

But very little is known about the details of West's role as a "consultant" for the Lakers from August of 2000 to April of 2002. Following his announcement as the new president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, West said "Retirement is terrible for a type-A personality. I've got to work. I didn't realize how badly I needed it.

From those comments, I believe very little contributions were made to the organization by West in the twenty months following his decision to step down as the Lakers' Executive Vice President.

I won't disagree with you and say that he wasn't involved in some capacity with every championship the Lakers have brought home while the team has been located in Los Angeles, but I think it is also important to note that his role during the final two championships in the latest "dynasty" was limited at best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by buckeyfan78
A rift occurred between owner Jerry Buss and GM West when in 1997, Buss declined to give West a bonus that the GM felt he earned (can't recall the details...not important)...When the Lakers hired Phil Jackson in 1999, West finally received a pay raise that he had been asking for. West took this as an insult. They brought in Phil for $30 million so they bumped up West's salary to $1 million. Insult indeed.
I know Jerry West seriously contemplated stepping away from the Lakers following the 1997-1998 season, but Jerry Buss did give West a four-year contract extension in excess of $14 million to keep him with the club. That is a far cry from your comments of West being "bumped up" to $1 million, and actually made West one of the highest paid executives in the NBA not performing a dual role.

Also note all of this took place before Phil Jackson was brought on board in June of 1999.

Quote:
Originally Posted by buckeyfan78
Bringing in Jackson was the wrong thing to do despite the Lakers winning 3 titles with him. Jackson had no ties to the organization and was a coach (who have a short life). West had earned the right to have at least SOME say in who the Lakers hired (IMO...he should have had FULL say).
If Jackson shouldn't have been brought in as the Lakers' coach, who should have taken over the team in 1999?

Quote:
Originally Posted by buckeyfan78
I wouldn't be surprised to see Kupchak replaced by Jim in the near future. He will be taking the place of the old man once he decides to retire to the looney bin.
Jerry Buss has indicated in the past that he eventually plans to hand the team down to his children: Jim Buss, the Lakers' assistant general manager, and Jeannie Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president of business operations.
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Old 06-22-2006, 04:06 PM   #5
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Thanks Buckeye, this should be interesting. I will dive in later on this evening when I have the time this topic merits..
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Old 06-22-2006, 08:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by da12ken
From what I understand, Jim Buss (Jerry's son and assistant to the GM if I'm not mistaken) had something to do with Jerry's significance being diminished.

Also, I love the logo as much as the next person, but the team he has assembled in Memphis is good, but nothing extraordinary.

Are you serious .......I am here in Memphis and the natvies are starting to disrespect West with that same garbage. :redhot: Then those of us with any sense remind them that the most games this francise won in a season (Vancouver of Memphis) was 23. Twenty freaking three There were a FEW season where they did not break twenty. To go from that to a every year playoff team is the first step yet a big one. This year the Grizz had the 6th best record in the league behind:

Detroit-Champs two years ago
SA-Defending champs
Dallas-Who beat the Grizz and made it to the finals.
Phoenix-who has twice gone to the conference finals
Miami-Who went on to win the title

West has done a remarkably job and as long as he stays around the Grizz will get better.
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:22 PM   #7
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I have a better idea to get things moving faster in here. We're going to do Q&A like a trial. This is going to prevent things getting off topic and avoid technicalities (to a point). We'll avoid topics like "was Phil the right choice in 99 and when did West get a raise?" The impetus of my first post was to set the tone for West's exit, show how Buss broke his own rules, and that Buss favors players over management. So for Shawn and Toby a few questions...

First and foremost do you still believe trading Shaq and resigning Kobe was the right choice for the Lakers? If you say no, I don't have to go over all this. I believe Shawn still says Kobe was the right choice.

A. Was Jerry West underpaid as an a front office employee in all capacities when you digest his ENTIRE tenure in Los Angeles?

B. Did Jerry Buss have a reputation as being stingy with all front office salaries BEFORE Phil Jackson arrived? And if so, did Jerry West mind the fact that he was underpaid IN COMPARISON TO PHIL? Did West mind that Buss traditionally spent "well" on players?

C. Was Jerry West responsible for acquiring Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and Derek Fisher within a two-week span in the summer of 1996?

D. Was Jerry West against the hiring of Phil Jackson?

E. Despite retiring in official capacity from the Lakers shortly after L.A. won the 2000 Finals, what kind of impact did West's character, integrity, and ability to relate to high-priced talent have on the relationship between Shaq and Kobe in his UNofficial tenure?

Last edited by buckeyefan78; 06-23-2006 at 02:25 AM.
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Old 06-23-2006, 12:36 AM   #8
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Buckeye, first let me thank you for providing a lot of the behind-the-scenes history of the Lakers, much of which I wasn't aware of.. definitely an interesting read. It's obvious that you have immense respect for Jerry West and immense disdain for Jerry Buss.

However, the first thing that comes to mind is that I failed to see an answer to my original question anywhere in there.
Original question was "Do you really feel that the Lakers with Shaq and without Kobe would have done any better than they did with Kobe and without Shaq?"

What you responded with was a history of the Lakers, and how they went wrong by mistreating West, and letting him escape to Memphis. I don't have any problem with any of that, actually... would be inclined to agree with you! Buss should have tried a LOT harder to keep West around, I wouldn't doubt that for a second.

But back to my original question, Do you really feel that the Lakers with Shaq and without Kobe would have done any better than they did with Kobe and without Shaq?

My speculation (and of course that's all any of us can do) is that no, they wouldn't have done any better and actually may have fared worse. Couple that with Shaq's age compared to Kobe's youth, and you have an obvious choice of Kobe for Buss, in my opinion.

I think what you're referring to is how Buss got himself into that position in the first place, which may very well have been caused by not respecting/compensating West, and letting him go. So that being said, are we pretty much on the same page?
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Old 06-23-2006, 07:45 PM   #9
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Shawn,

I disagree with your assesment here. I feel that they could have built a better team around Shaq. In trading Shaq they took on a lot of salary cap because they had to match Shaq's salary and that left them in salary cap hell for a couple of years. As we saw in the state of the salary cap thread they still have a couple of years of limited salary cap resources that they have to work around, especially dealing with Brian Grant's contract, and now Kwame's. I felt they should have kept Caron Butler, I liked that kid and thought he could have become a good complement to KB, but we are talking about Mitch Kupchak here. If the goal was to keep the young guy and put fans in the seats I could understand the Lakers course of action, but if the objective was to win games then this doesn't make any sense to me because after this year the Lakers have tied up at least two years of Kobe's prime hamstrung by the cap with the potential of not being able to add much for a couple more years. Now in 06-07 they may be able to swing a good trade or two on the expiring contracts of Grant and Mihm, but I have seen nothing to make me believe that Kupchek has the brains to pull off a good one. And even so you still have to continue to build a team and keep them together to build chemistry. I know Kobe is young but he is starting to pile up a lot of minutes and mileage on his body so you can't waste his best years surrounding him with scrubs.
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Old 06-23-2006, 08:26 PM   #10
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Uh, Brian Grant is no longer a Laker so the Lakers won't be able to make a cap friendly trade to unload him. Chris Mihm is only making like 4 mil a year so that goes by the wayside as well.

Here is my question though: Does Jerry West really deserve that much credit for landing Kobe and Shaq? I seem to remember that Shaq and Kobe wanted to play for the Lakers. When the Hornets drafted Kobe he pretty much told them to trade him to LA because that is who he wanted to play for. I guess West deserves some credit for making it all work financially, but it is not as though he had to sell either guy on coming to the Lakers to begin with. It is kind of like giving Brian Cashman credit for landing Randy Johnson even though Johnson basically engineered the trade to the Yanks.

Also, isn't it a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to say the Lakers definitely should have kept Shaq since he just won? There is a decent chance this will be the only title the Heat win with Shaq. Wade carried the Heat in the Finals, Shaq was fairly nonexistant. If the game truly is shifting to being predominantly a guards game as Buckeye has been claiming here of late then would it not behoove the Lakers' to hang onto the guy who is widely viewed as one of the two or three best guards in the league? Also, if this shift is happening then Shaq is going to become more and more of a dinosaur in the next couple of years. The Mavs rendered him rather ineffective by pushing the tempo as Shaq simply cannot keep up with a faster-paced game.

The Lakers went into this knowing full well that once they dumped Shaq they probably would not compete for a title for a couple of seasons. They went into this thinking long term as opposed to trying to squeeze another title out of a Shaq-oriented team. What if this is the only ring Shaq wins in Miami and ten years down the road Kobe ends up with two or three more as a Laker before he retires? Would the end result not have been worth it then if the Lakers end up with more titles in the long run?
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Old 06-23-2006, 09:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee
Uh, Brian Grant is no longer a Laker so the Lakers won't be able to make a cap friendly trade to unload him. Chris Mihm is only making like 4 mil a year so that goes by the wayside as well.?
I stand corrected, they can not trade that salary, which makes it twice as dumb because you tied up 15 million a year for two years for what? 2 points and 3 rebs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee
Here is my question though: Does Jerry West really deserve that much credit for landing Kobe and Shaq? I seem to remember that Shaq and Kobe wanted to play for the Lakers.?
So because they wanted to play for the Lakers that means it just was going to happen anyway? NO!! Many teams backed the Brinks truck up to Shaq's door and others were willing to give up a lot to get Shaq. He said publicly on several occasions that Jerry West being there was a deciding factor in him coming to LA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee
When the Hornets drafted Kobe he pretty much told them to trade him to LA because that is who he wanted to play for. I guess West deserves some credit for making it all work financially, but it is not as though he had to sell either guy on coming to the Lakers to begin with. It is kind of like giving Brian Cashman credit for landing Randy Johnson even though Johnson basically engineered the trade to the Yanks. ?
Just because a high school draftee (which is all Kobe was back then) asked to be traded to a certain team means that the organization must comply? Of course not...Charlotte could have traded him to any team which gave them a good deal or could have just held on to his rights. What would he have done???????Gone to college? Held out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee
Also, isn't it a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to say the Lakers definitely should have kept Shaq since he just won? ?
Maybe, Maybe not. But Shaq does have a ring and a trip to the conference finals so he IS still contending for titles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee
There is a decent chance this will be the only title the Heat win with Shaq. ?
Possible. But it is also possible that Kobe never makes it back to that level also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee
Wade carried the Heat in the Finals, Shaq was fairly nonexistant.?
True again, but could that be because Dallas chose to focus it's D on doubling and tripling Shaq as much as they did? While some people may not respect Shaq much, Avery Johnson sure did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee
If the game truly is shifting to being predominantly a guards game as Buckeye has been claiming here of late then would it not behoove the Lakers' to hang onto the guy who is widely viewed as one of the two or three best guards in the league? ?
True again, but it's becoming a guards game because of the rules changes and the fact that the post-up big man no longer exists. How many true dominant back to the basket post players are there in the league now? Shaq, Duncan and possibly Yao but I don't see many others

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee
Also, if this shift is happening then Shaq is going to become more and more of a dinosaur in the next couple of years. The Mavs rendered him rather ineffective by pushing the tempo as Shaq simply cannot keep up with a faster-paced game.?
When did the Mavs push the tempo? They scored 100 points in 1 game. scoring all of 74 in game 4. In fact the complete opposite happened. Because of the presence of Shaq and Zo in the lane challenging shots, Dallas reverted back to the jump shooting team that they were instead of the fearless driving team that they had been during the playoffs prior to that. Miami completely slowed down the Mavs quickness by making it a half court game and having the intimidation in the lane.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee
The Lakers went into this knowing full well that once they dumped Shaq they probably would not compete for a title for a couple of seasons. They went into this thinking long term as opposed to trying to squeeze another title out of a Shaq-oriented team. What if this is the only ring Shaq wins in Miami and ten years down the road Kobe ends up with two or three more as a Laker before he retires? Would the end result not have been worth it then if the Lakers end up with more titles in the long run?
I agree the Lakers had a long term vision, I just think it was mis-managed. They pratically gave away Shaq for a handful of magic beans. The what if game can go either way. What if Kobe never gets that opportunity to get to the finals again. It is possible, you know. I think that with the way the West is looking it may take a while to do if he can. The Spurs have the core of their team locked up until 09. The Mavs have a solid foundation to build on and Mr. moneybags to back it up. Phoenix got as far as the did without Amare, who knows what happens when he comes back. Jerry West is always lurking in Memphis and has the brains to make it happen for the Grizz. The Clippers have built a good core around Brand and Scrooge Sterling is finally beginning to loosen the wallet. If T-mac can stay healthy the Rockets are contenders. With all these tough teams who could potentially battle it out for the next three or four years it is possible the Lakers could be lagging behind for a while and I don't think Kupchek can right the ship.
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Old 06-23-2006, 11:56 PM   #12
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Good post, tray...

Matter of fact, good post by Doublee on the other side of the coin.


Quote:
Originally Posted by trayhezy
I agree the Lakers had a long term vision, I just think it was mis-managed. They pratically gave away Shaq for a handful of magic beans.
I think this is the telling point tho. Buckeye has broadened the trade scenario that shows it was a foundation of mis-management up to & including the trade. However, your point "for a handful of beans" makes the loudest statement, regardless if one was for or against the trade. Mis-managed to that end is still shocking...

I think it was a big mistake but from the way Buss/Kupchak does business, it probably's a moot point. Odds are they would have screwed up if they would have kept Shaq anyway...
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Old 06-24-2006, 05:15 PM   #13
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My opinion remains that trading Shaq was the right thing to do. You might say Shaq winning a ring post-Lakers justifies buckeye's opinion, but I will argue Shaq winning a ring means nothing to the Lakers and certainly doesn't mean he would have been better for the Lakers than Kobe. Shaq won because of Wade and talent around him. He had two games scoring in the single digits. He is nearing the end, whereas Kobe has a lot more left.

Sure, I would have done everything in my power to keep Shaq and Kobe together, but if you HAD to trade one, they made the right choice.
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Old 07-25-2006, 02:05 PM   #14
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Trading Shaq was the right thing to do for multiple reasons.

Disrespect of the organization and the family. Disrespect to players that he doesn't get along with. And the fact that he was getting old and getting worse. Best shape of his post three peat and the guy is barely a factor. Imagine him still in LA after getting what he wanted.

Even bigger and works less.

There is a reason why he worked so hard to at least attempt to get in shape and make a good relationship with his coach, owner, and Wade. The fact that he didn't want wanted to prove it otherwise.
Quote:
I feel that they could have built a better team around Shaq
Disagree.

Shaq showed no interest in getting in shape or working hard for the Lakers. Therefore, there was no reason why to conclude getting rid of Kobe would get him hungerier for a ring. Just make him even less hungry for a ring. Feeling that he is the king of everything makes him work less. Feeling that he isn't wanted makes him work harder.

Secondly, losing Kobe for nothing still doesn't get them under the cap. So essentially, it is Shaq, Cook, Walton, Rush, George, Payton, and other scrubs plus the MLE and the LLE to use with little to no tradable assests. Far from getting traded to Miami where there is Jones who is a big contract that is tradable and other pieces.

Thirdly, Shaq wanted a contract that ran to when he is 38. Paying him around 20+ million until then. That is why he was traded. Buss offered a three year extension, he wanted five. He actually settled for less. The fact that Shaq settled for less, got in shape, didn't happen when he was a Laker. Even early on, there was talk of him not getting along with Harris, and he traded Eddie Jones away.

Obviously, West would be an upgrade over Jim Buss and Kupchak. But isn't like Jerry Buss is terrible. He was the one that wanted Magic, not Jerry West. And Buss won championships before Jerry West was GM, so to disrespect Jerry Buss is as bad as disrespecting Jerry West. Jim Buss and Kupchak? Different story. Disrepsect them all you want.

Quote:
When West left, Shaq and Kobe were left to fight for the admiration of Jerry Buss and it would be Kobe who would win.
You forget Phil Jackson who used Kobe as the whipping boy and gave everything to Shaq.

Buss may have favored Kobe, but Jackson favored Shaq easily.
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Old 07-26-2006, 02:35 AM   #15
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Buss won championships before West was MADE GM but he was in the organization and involved in decisions...to say the least. Bill Sharman and Chick Hearn had to convince West a little to draft Magic over Sidney Moncrief. That's the ONLY thing you can give West grief over and it's only the fact he BRIEFLY thought of Moncrief over Magic. And in the end he drafted the right guy.

Whatever world it is easier to trade a guy already under contract (Shaq) AND GETTING EQUAL VALUE FOR HIM instead of letting a guy who is unsigned go or to do a sign and trade with him (as in Kobe) must have people poppin' insanity pills in it.

Pat Riley motivated Shaq this past season. Jerry West motivated Shaq in the late 90s and early 2000s. I wonder where those two guys got their starts? I also wonder who wouldn't pay them or share ownership that eventually sent them on their way....hmmm...interesting.

Shaq traded Eddie Jones away? Who cares? Riley told Van Gundy to hit the bricks. Magic told Westhead to go to hell. Both had banners to raise...they couldn't fool around with such nonsense.

The money debate begins and ends here...

Shaq leaves with $27 million on his contract.

The Lakers acquire Odom ( $11 million), Grant ( $18 million) and Butler ( $2.5 million) from Miami for Shaq. Plus they sign Kobe to $15 million a year.

Let's play the adding game...

11 + 18 + 2.5 + 15 = $46.5 million. Shaq cost $27 million. 46>27 according to my math.

IF Buss still had a man of integrity in his front office (besides Magic and Rambis who have to be suicidal if you ask me) perhaps Shaq takes the paycut he took for Riley. But you need a man in there who commands respect.

Also of interest is how Buss went WAY over the salary cap and the Lakers actually had a higher payroll the first year post-Shaq than they did during the 3peat. He goes over the cap for Kobe, why not for a Shaq-only team? Plus he would have had more money to do so because 46-27 = $19 million.

Giving double and triple teams to Shaq ALLOWED Wade to operate on the perimeter because Dallas had a strategy of "let Wade beat us instead of Shaq." Yea foolish, but Shaq got his ring. BTW...what were Kobe's numbers in the 04 Finals compared to Wade's 06 Finals? Come to think of it, what were Shaq's numbers in 04 compared to 06? Seems like Wade dominated much more than Kobe did while Shaq's numbers were WAY down from 04. And don't give me the "Mavs suck at D story." I believe Wade beat the Pistons in the earlier round...the same Pistons who put the clamps on Mr. Bryant.

I don't ponder these things anymore. I'm pretty sure of the truth here. I guess if you want physical proof, exhibit A will be raised to the rafters in a few months down on South Beach. Plus I gotta get ready for year 3 of "healing" in Tinseltown. I say a call goes out to Dr. Phil by January when Kwame claims Odom stole his pot outta his locker.

Last edited by buckeyefan78; 07-26-2006 at 02:43 AM.
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