Saturday, April 27, 2013

6 comments Bill Plaschke is Not Impressed by the Lakers and I'm Not Impressed by Bill Plaschke

So the Lakers qualified for the NBA playoffs. Good for them to rebound from the rough start, the injury to Kobe and all the other useless drama that surrounded the team to make the playoffs. Bill Plaschke doesn't see it this way of course. He is not impressed at all by the Lakers. This isn't news though. There is nothing the Lakers could have done to impress Bill Plaschke after starting they started this year off slowly. This is the great benefit of being a sportswriter and being able to hate on the teams you cover. You aren't forced to have some perspective. Once the Lakers started the year off badly, they were in a no-win situation from that point on. If they made the playoffs, then they should have made the playoffs anyway, and if they didn't make the playoffs then they are a disappointment for not making the playoffs. There's no perspective. The Lakers won five straight games and went 8-2 over their last 10 games to make the playoffs. They have lost 8 games since February 14. Sure, they aren't where they were expected to be in terms of seeding in the Western Conference and making the playoffs isn't a premier achievement in the history of the franchise, but I find it somewhat impressive they found their way into the playoffs after their bad start. Bill sees it differently and will not allow Lakers fans to enjoy the continuation of their team's season.

One of the most hyped teams in NBA history fell exhaustedly into the playoffs Wednesday.

I'm not inclined to agree with Kobe Bryant, especially when the Lakers no longer have Kobe Bryant available for the playoffs, but once they make the playoffs then all bets are off. All that matters after this disastrous season is that the Lakers are in the playoffs. Kobe said the Lakers would make the playoffs and they did.

Fittingly, it was clinched when they were just standing around.

The Lakers also won the game they were playing in overtime, which would have clinched their spot in the playoffs even if the Jazz had won. But what good are facts that may hurt the argument Bill is trying to make?

Ten minutes before the start of their game with the Houston Rockets, the Lakers learned that the Utah Jazz had lost in Memphis, meaning the Lakers were guaranteed the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

Then the Lakers went out and won in overtime anyway. Bill may not be impressed, but this does say something positive about this Lakers team. Also, the Lakers were able to clinch a playoff berth last mostly because they played last on Wednesday evening and they didn't clinch the final Western Conference spot because they are the 7th seed.

Their ticket was punched by the image of Al Jefferson with his face buried in his hands.

Their ticket was also punched by beating the Rockets in overtime. Don't forget this because it is convenient for you to forget this.

Only one person seemed immediately and genuinely excited. You can probably guess.
"And to think some said we wouldn't make it," tweeted Kobe Bryant, who added the hashtags #keepcalm, #believe, #makeplayoffs, and #makehistory.

Kobe Bryant was cheering on his team while sidelined with a possible career-ending injury. What a selfish asshole. I'm sure Bill Simmons would have a "6 for 24" joke to use at this point in the column.

This matchup was set later Wednesday when, needing a victory to avoid the more difficult Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers made just enough plays to beat the younger and jittery Rockets, 99-95, in overtime.

I love how Plaschke frames this. He doesn't frame it as the Lakers having achieved anything in beating the Rockets and securing the 7th seed in the Western Conference. They don't get credit for still putting forth effort once their playoff berth was secured. No, the Lakers barely beat the Rockets and avoided playing a Thunder team that would have wiped the floor with them (of course the Thunder are the #1 seed in the Western Conference so they should theoretically beat any Western Conference team in the playoffs), so the Lakers barely avoided getting easily beaten in the playoffs by beating the Rockets. This is framed as something that was unimpressive.

The Lakers then survived the overtime with great defense, leading to one of the oddest reactions to one of the oddest proud announcements in Lakers history.

"The Lakers are the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs," intoned public-address announcer Lawrence Tanter, and the crowd roared, and, well, really?

Yes, really. The Lakers played well enough over the last two months of the season to avoid the Thunder and give themselves a fighting chance to win a playoff series. Only bitter angry sportswriters wouldn't be able to find a way to take some measure of excitement and pride in this. Lakers fans were happy to have made the playoffs after the team's struggles beginning the season.

Bryant was earlier Twitter gloating because he predicted a playoff berth long before he suffered his season-ending Achilles' tendon tear, but, really, should a prediction have even been necessary?

At the beginning of the season, no, a prediction should not have been necessary. Circumstances change and there were people burying the Lakers, yet Bryant insisted they would still make the playoffs and they did. There were plenty of people suggesting the Lakers would miss the playoffs and Kobe was simply promising this would not happen.

In the summer they added future Hall of Famers Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to a team that already had Bryant and Pau Gasol. It was one of the greatest rosters eve assembled.

Well, I'm not sure "Eve" assembled the team, but it was supposed to be a very good team. Howard didn't mesh well with Gasol, Mike Brown got fired, Mike D'Antoni was hired and Nash got injured at the beginning of the season, so chaos reigned for a while and the Lakers lost games. At that point, the postseason was in question.

Then the late great owner Jerry Buss' prostate cancer worsened, and the Lakers' impatience became panic, and Coach Mike Brown was fired after just five games.

I'm not a Lakers fan. In fact, I hate the Lakers. I don't like being nice to them, but I feel like I have to be at this point. They still made the playoffs after enduring a lot of change and chaos. Sure, they are a talented team, but it would have been very easy for this season to have completely gotten away from the Lakers and end up with a losing record.

With Jim Buss using his ego instead of brains, Phil Jackson was snubbed and Mike D'Antoni was hired, thus creating a match made in seventh place.

Again, notice how Bill Plaschke frames this. He is still seeing a 7th seed as a bad thing, despite listing all the things that went wrong for the Lakers this season. It's not "D'Antoni managed to get the Lakers the 7th seed in the Western Conference," but the Lakers failed by only getting a 7th seed after all the issues at the beginning of the season.

D'Antoni wanted to run, yet the Lakers were too big and creaky to run. D'Antoni didn't preach defense, and the Lakers used that excuse to ignore it.
Would the greatest coach in NBA history have figured out a better way? Wouldn't you have liked to see Jackson get a chance?

So basically Plaschke is throwing a shit-fit and refusing to give the Lakers any credit because Phil Jackson didn't get hired to be the head coach and Mike D'Antoni did get hired to be the head coach. I have a feeling if Phil Jackson had overseen the Lakers getting the 7th seed in the Western Conference then Plaschke would have written about everything the Lakers had to go through during the season, but the Great and Powerful Phil Jackson still managed to squeak a very dangerous Lakers team into the playoffs.

Despite a brilliant resurgence by Bryant, the most memorable Staples Center chant was, "We want Phil." 

And as I always like to say, "If you don't make personnel decisions based entirely on what the fans want, then don't expect your team to succeed. After all, the fans are always right."

Despite the eventual healing of Howard's back, his most compelling moments were when he complained about not having enough touches.

I guess the Lakers aren't going to get any credit for trading Bynum (who sat out this entire year) for Howard? Granted, the trade didn't work out exactly like the Lakers wanted it to, but having Howard was better than having Bynum during the 12-13 season.

The only reason Bill Plaschke finds Howard's complaining to be compelling is because it gave Plaschke some drama that he could write about in his columns. Sportswriters like Plaschke don't care about the games, they only care about the drama surrounding the games. It makes it so much easier to write when you don't have to do any type of analysis and can just rip a player you don't like apart.

D'Antoni decided that Gasol couldn't play at the same time as Howard. Then D'Antoni decided that he could.

And of course Phil Jackson would be given credit by Bill Plaschke for experimenting with different lineups and then admitting when he was wrong. Mike D'Antoni's lineup experimentation and eventually settling on Gasol and Howard playing together shows just how clueless he is though.

Nash was hurt for so long, his return was anticipated as if he was a sort of savior. Except when he played, he was so lost in this aimless and confused offense, you hardly knew he was there.

AND YET THE LAKERS STILL MADE THE PLAYOFFS AS THE 7TH SEED! You can't rag on the Lakers for being so terrible all year and having bad chemistry, then act like it isn't impressive when the Lakers make the playoffs.

Bryant played so many minutes in attempting to drag this team out of the muck, his body finally broke in the final moments of a game last week.

This is a terrible use of hyperbole. Bryant's body didn't break under the weight of dragging the team out of the muck. He played a ton of minutes down the stretch and he had an injury that knocked him out for the rest of the season. Go less hyperbolic, please. And of course if Phil Jackson was the Lakers head coach then Kobe Bryant would never have gotten injured.

Just ask Steve Blake. Back in the fall, Blake was fined for yelling back at a prominent but heckling season-ticket holder. On Wednesday, Blake was the toast of the building with his Lakers career-high 24 points and the clinching free throws.

If Phil Jackson hired as head coach then Blake would have scored a career high 44 points.

It's Blake's team now. It's Howard's team. It's Gasol's team. It's not yet, however, destiny's team, 

Here's the part where Bill Plaschke starts hedging. He's spent this entire column bashing the Lakers for barely making the playoffs and saying this accomplishment isn't really that great of an accomplishment, even given the injury and personnel issues the team had this year. But...he also doesn't hate this Lakers team enough to write them off. So the Lakers suck and aren't a team of destiny, unless they are, but they probably aren't, but they could be.

unless destiny has one heck of a sense of humor.

And the Lakers definitely won't be a team of destiny if they just continue standing around like they did when they beat the Rockets in overtime to earn the 7th seed in the Western Conference. So Bill Plaschke in no way believes in the Lakers' ability to win a playoff series, doesn't believe in D'Antoni as a head coach and isn't impressed with their accomplishments, but he won't rule their ability to make a playoff run. Typical Plaschke. He's willing to bash a team, but not willing to be seen as wrong.


Woody Paige said...

Many years ago I saw Plaschke a couple times on the Tony Reali show and was underwhelmed. Maybe the show's format requiring one to think and speak on their feet quickly didn't speak to Bill's strengths but I remember him as coming across as a bit of a twit and general all around lightweight.

Bengoodfella said...

Woody, I think I've seen that before too. Mostly, I don't get why he would bash the Lakers for making the playoffs after having a nightmare season. Sure, they got swept by the Spurs, but I think it shows they didn't give up that they rallied down the stretch.

JBsptfn said...

If the Lakers keep Dwight Howard, their fans better get used to this. They will be bad enough to sneak in the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a high pick.

They will be stuck on a treadmill of mediocrity, which sounds great to me, because I hate the Lakers.

Bengoodfella said...

JB, I'm not a huge Lakers fan either. I'm fine with their mediocrity. If they stay at this level then Plaschke is going to have a field day over the next couple of years.

JBsptfn said...

The Lakers don't have a first rounder this year, and I think they sent their 2015 first rounder for Nash as well. If they did, and if Howard leaves, it doesn't look too good because Bryant's retirement is on the horizon. He may only have one year left.

Bengoodfella said...

JB, the Lakers are good at bouncing back. I feel like they will sign LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis, then win a few more titles. Logistically this is impossible probably, but I wouldn't put anything past them.