The Opinionated Spectator,,,NO SAFE PLACE

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Sports is my safe place. It’s what I do, when I want to blow off steam, relax, and have some fun. I’ll turn on a basketball game and root for my favorite team shamelessly.

You should probably know upfront, I am a Los Angeles Lakers fan.  I know, I know, it is a shock. How can I be from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and be a Lakers fan?

I don’t know. It kind of just happened. The heart wants what the heart wants!  But for better or worse, they are my NBA indulgence and I support them at all cost.

The Los Angeles Lakers are a storied franchise and they are also one of the most hated teams in the NBA. However, like every story there is a protagonist and an antagonist. In other words, a hero and a villain.
There have been several Lakers heroes that have donned the purple and gold uniforms down through the years. They have included Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabber, James Worthy, and Magic Johnson, to name a few.  The current protagonist of the Los Angeles Lakers is Kobe Bryant. Lakers fans root for him to stay healthy, play within himself,  and play along with his teammates. Also, we depend on the Lakers front office personnel to surround him with enough talent to produce more championships. He has five championship rings and we desperately want him to acquire his sixth ring.

But in every story, there is a villain. For the Los Angeles Lakers fans, our villain, is the person, who because of his poor decision making, we will always view with disgust.  Who is this villain, you ask?

No, it’s not one of the usual suspects in our front office. No, it is not a former coach or a selfish brash player who may have bolted unceremoniously.  Instead, our villain is David Stern. That’s right, the former National Basketball Association’s Commissioner. After 30 years of serving as commissioner, he retired in January of 2014.  And may I say, good riddance!!! We, as Lakers fans do not wish him well and we loathe the thought of him.

Yes, this is some strong language. But, let’s examine why Lakers fans, including myself, have such negative opinions of David Stern. In December of 2011, the league-owned New Orleans Hornets had created a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets that would send Chris Paul to the Lakers, ship Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets and  send Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin and Luis Scola to the New Orleans Hornets, along with some other pieces.

When the news broke of this trade, Lakers fans were jubilant. Kobe would have Chris Paul, a brilliant point guard and a player worthy of carrying us into the future.  We laughed and cried tears of joy.  Fans were tweeting happily.  However, within the hour of the trade being accepted, David Stern had nixed the deal. Just like that, it was gone.  We did not even have 60 full minutes. Our hopes and dreams of having Chris Paul wear purple and gold had vanished. And that folks, is why David Stern is our villain.

The Lakers organization tried to rebound from the failed deal by acquiring Steve Nash. However, getting Steve Nash when you thought you were getting Chris Paul is like getting your grandmother’s 2001 Geo Metro when you were promised an Aston Martin.
Shortly thereafter, the organization ended up trading for Dwight Howard, but he never had enough championship fiber or grit to play for our team. It was always a recipe for disaster.

I had tried to make my peace with these failed ventures. But this week was another blow to my beloved Lakers and reminder that David Stern will never see those pearly gates in the afterlife.

Pau Gasol bolted for the Chicago Bulls and who can blame him. He wanted an organization that wasn’t going to use him for trade bait each year. However, just a few days later, I learned that the Lakers had picked up Carlos Boozer on waivers from the Chicago Bulls. Boozer! Short Carlos Boozer.  Blasphemous.  I don’t care if they had gotten him for $5.00. Some deals you just don’t make!

Do you know how difficult it is going to be to cheer for Carlos Boozer as he gets pummeled by every other power forward in the league. He is listed as being 6’9. He is short and he does not jump particularly high. He is the only player I know that makes Pau Gasol look beasty. I have followed his career for years and I have never been impressed with his talent. Rooting for Carlos Boozer to actually bend his knees, jump, grab a rebound, and be aggressive is just mentally exhausting. I’m not looking forward to it.

But it all comes back to Stern. It may not be reasonable. But we lay this at his feet. Had the deal gone through, the Lakers would not be  sifting through the garage sell of NBA waivers  trying to convince ourselves that this metal rusted fork is actually a silver spoon.

Soon, I’m going to have to find another safe place. Another activity other than sports to help me relax and unwind. Oh look, they tell me there is a Zumba Class at the local YMCA for $5.00.

Alexis Sara Cobb may be reached at:  alexiscobb@ascexec.com or (724)561-8082  Follow her on Twitter: @alexissara

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