The Lakers won Friday at the Verizon Center, but their problems are just beginning (US Presswire).
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- There aren't two teams in the NBA as easy to make fun of as the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The former can't seem to escape being the laughingstock of professional basketball, even after Washington rid themselves of the notorious knuckle-headed threesome. Recently, a Wizards ticket holder even paid fans to go to the game in his place. And the Lakers this season feel like a combination of the failed 2011 Philadelphia "dream team" Eagles mixed in with season three of the CBS hit soap opera Bold and the Beautiful. They just can't escape drama.
Quick things you need to know about the Lakers sloppy 102-96 win on Friday:
Sadly for basketball fans in attendance, Cartier Martin (21 points, 8 rebounds) was arguably the second-best player on the floor, showing how dire the Lakers current roster situation really is. In more important news, six Redskins, one Raven and the Nationals new center fielder, were in attendance. Now on to some overall broad observations.
1) The Lakers struggles give hope to small market teams
Let's remember, that at this point last season there had been a grand total of ZERO games played. Still, their lack of domination is alarming yet exciting for the rest of the NBA. When Dwight Howard and Steve Nash were originally acquired, it was a not a matter of if, but how many championships Los Angeles would win with their core four superstars.
If the Lakers are eliminated from the first round of the playoffs, a failed "super-team" would be a gigantic win for the smaller market NBA franchises. The more parity in a sport (ie the NFL) the more compelling each season becomes. Maybe larger market teams in the future will think twice about becoming a "super-team" if the Lakers implode.
Plus, who doesn't enjoy watching a sports train wreck? If the Lakers were thriving, the early NBA season would be as boring as baseball can get in the month of August. Because it's a storyline most basketball fans never saw coming, the shock value and frustration from the Lakers has been riveting for the NBA in December.
2) Lakers fans have not embraced Dwight Howard
In fact, he may officially possess the "NBA's most hated player" title, obtaining it from LeBron James. Every one of Howard's mistakes -- missed free throws, bricked shots, inadvertent goaltending calls -- were mocked by the crowd on Friday, and majority of them were wearing purple and gold. As fragile as Howard has been in the past, you know this losing skid and negativity is eating away inside his head. If the Lakers don't make a deep playoff run, I'll bet you Howard will get a lashing from both the media and fans as the scapegoat.
3) When Kobe Bryant finally does retire it will be a gloomy day for the NBA
Has a superstar ever remained relevant for this long in professional basketball? Michael Jordan had that season long break. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson's careers were both brilliant, but short lived. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for 20 seasons, but big men don't do nearly as much on the court as guards. His longevity is Brett Favre impressive. As the years drag on after Kobe's retirement, I think even his biggest naysayers will come to appreciate how rare of a career he's produced. Even if he goes without another title, I still say he's the second best player of all-time.
4) The Wizards should take a page out of the Nats book
The crowd split was an easy 60/40 in favor of the Lakers; not a surprise at all. You can't blame season ticket holders for either hooking up their friends who are Lakers fans or jacking up the ticket prices online. Next season when the Lakers come to town, the Wizards organization needs to up the ante for Wizards fans to attend. I'd start with giving away a free t-shirt and Chipotle burrito to every fan not wearing purple or gold. The few loyal fans left need something to rally around and the Wizards marketing brass should satisfy that need.
5) Will the Wizards make any mid-season changes?
Does Ted Leonsis have a breaking point? Is there something that will push the owner over the edge and cause him to make more major changes?
Team president Ernie Grunfeld has become enemy number one in Washington D.C., even ahead of Daniel Snyder. Leonsis would get an overwhelming amount of support locally if he ended the Grunfeld era. But if he immediately hires a new general manager, will that guy in charge want to bring in his own head coach over Randy Wittman? Probably. Add in the NHL lockout, and the Wizards organizational structure situation is a highly complex one. I wouldn't expect any type of resolution in the near future.