Years ago, I used to watch a local team that had a generational talent as a point guard and a Hall of Fame coach. On paper, you had exactly what you needed for success, and sure enough, the team won a lot of games. Unfortunately, the team was dysfunctional beyond belief. I would watch the star ball handler (who might be the best player I have ever watched live, which includes collegiate Final Fours) argue with the coach, yell at the coach, and disregard whatever the coach said. As much success as the team had, it never reached its goals. My best season as a coach was when I had a generational talent in my area. He was the real deal, but he was also the perfect kid to coach. He was the humblest kid that I have ever coached and never argued with anything that I said. We exceeded all of our goals that season.
The moral that I learned is that the coach doesn’t matter: a Hall of Famer came up short and a complete schmuck didn’t. The key is the star’s character. This is where I feel bad for Darvin Ham. By all accounts, he is a good dude. I know people that are close to his son, and they speak highly of the entire family. Ham has the makings of a great coach: respectable, intelligent, and accomplished. And yet, he is going to fail and be fired.
This is not an indictment on Coach Ham. I hope that I am wrong, but the moral of the above story tells us that who runs the team is more important than who the coach is. Lebron is an amazing player. In another post, I argued that he is the GOAT. Well, Lebron the player is the GOAT. Lebron the GM and Lebron the coach are not the GOAT. The problem is that Lebron wants to be the GM, coach, and player.
First, let’s address Lebron the GM. Lebron pushed the Lakers to acquire Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is an All Star caliber player that has trouble fitting in wherever he goes. We must add in the fact that what makes Lebron great is when he has the ball in his hands and the fact that Westbrook is only good with his hands on the rock, and we all realize that Lebron needs to be surrounded with shooters, which Westbrook is not. The Lakers mortgaged the farm in order to get Anthony Davis. I can actually like the fit between the two, but I don’t like that the Lakers traded away young talent and decent fits in order to acquire a high cost player that has never made it the whole season (he has missed more than half the season the last two years). We all knew that this was a likelihood. Lebron recruited Rajon Rondo to the Lakers. Rondo is below 33% for three for his career (according to Basketball-Reference.com). Lebron has a long history of picking his teammates, which goes all the way back to The Decision. While I gave a couple of examples, I can sum up what Lebron looks for in a teammate- he likes old, poor shooting, ball dominant players with histories of injury. If I had to grade Lebron as a GM, I’d give him a D- solely because his decision to pair with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade kind of worked out really, really well.
Second, let’s look at Lebron with his treatment of coaches. According to Sports Manor, Lebron has had eight coaches; six of these coaches have been fired. We cannot pin all of these firings on Lebron, as Brendan Malone and Paul Silas were very early in his career; however, Mike Brown is probably a victim of the Lebron Curse. Brown was fired as the Cavs were holding their breath and trying to get Lebron to not bolt for Miami. It doesn’t take a doctorate to realize that the Cavs fired Brown hoping that this would induce Lebron to resign; afterall, you don’t fire a person’s favorite coach and think that this will make the player happy. Then there was David Blatt. Bleacher Reports ran an article back in 2016 that illustrated how Lebron didn’t connect personally with Blatt but did with Tyron Lue. Despite going to an NBA Finals, Blatt was fired. Several news services ran stories that Lebron wanted Luke Walton to be let go. At best Frank Vogel was recently fired because of the poor roster that Lebron built; at worst, Vogel was fired because Lebron wanted a shiny new toy. Lebron has been referred to as a “coach killer” for at least the last six years. Everytime I look into a coach and Lebron, it is obvious that Lebron earns a D- for his ability to work well with others. I will withhold a failing grade because it seems like he was able to get along with Erik Spoelstra. Wait, Bleacher Report ran an article that Pat Riley had to tell Lebron that Lebron didn’t have the authority to fire the coach. Nevermind, Lebron gets an E-.
Lebron as a player is where it gets interesting. Lebron is a great player. He is the all time league leader in points, free throws made, and steals. He is second in assists and in the top ten in rebounds and blocks. The guy can flat out carry a team; he led the Cavaliers as they became the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals. Lebron is one of the most gifted players to ever grace the hardwood and is in the conversation for GOAT status. Unfortunately, Lebron also has played the most games in NBA history, which has taken a toll on him. Lebron has played 80+ games only three times in his career; he has only played more than 60 since joining the Lakers. As good as he is, Lebron isn’t on the court enough to carry his team. Even the King has to answer to Father Time. Where would I grade Lebron as the player? He is an A when he plays, but he is a part time player. I’ll go with an underachieving C+.
All of this leads us to the fact that Lebron has destroyed this roster, he has earned a reputation as a coach killer, and is becoming injury prone. Poor Darvin Ham, he is going to bear the brunt of the mess that Lebron has made. Poor Darvin Ham, the NBA is a league where the super star stays and the coach gets all the blame. Poor Darvin Ham, he’s a good guy that is going to be put in a no win situation because he isn’t the coach of the GM: Lebron is.
One thought on “Lakers Find Their Next Coach to Fire”