“This is a franchise, like I’ve said in the past, guys whose jerseys hang up in the rafters are some of the all-time greats,” Bryant said. “Not just greats for the franchise. I don’t know if there’s any other organization that can say that.”
However, that same franchise enters tonight’s matchup with Oklahoma City surrounded by a cloud of confusion.
The Lakers have stumbled through the first part of the season that has seen the storied franchise make one controversial decision after another.
In the offseason they traded away Andrew Bynum and brought Dwight Howard and Steve Nash into the fold. Head coach Mike Brown was fired after a few weeks into the season. Instead of bringing back 11-time world champion Phil Jackson, Mike D’Antoni was brought in, who has never won a title.
Injuries, learning a new system and horrible defense have led to Los Angeles’ sub-par start. At 9-10 they are tied for eighth in the Western Conference and mired in mediocrity.
Conversely, the Thunder are 15-4 and considered one of the best teams in the NBA. They have gotten past the blockbuster James Harden trade and are now leading the league in scoring. Oklahoma City has been the model of consistency.
“We’re 19 games into a long season,” Kevin Durant told reporters Tuesday. “But right now I like the group we have. Kevin Martin has come in and played well for us. Russell Westbrook is stepping his game up. Kendrick Perkins is doing a great job. Everybody is just filling in for what James Harden left off. And we have a great group of guys here, and we’re just doing a great job of just playing together and playing defense. That’s the key formula.”
Michael KinneyFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org