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Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022

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Laker Savior

In the often-weird world of the National Basketball Association, nice guys usually don’t finish first especially head coaches who must supervise a bunch of immature and very wealthy young men. So it was little surprise last week when Lakers Coach Del Harris got the ax, even though practically no one had anything bad to say about the guy. Which, of course, was part of the problem.

For the last couple of seasons, the Lakers have gone from a team with promise to a troubled team with promise and no championship season in sight. Despite an impressive 224-116 overall record, Harris is only 17-19 in playoff games, a powerful indictment for a franchise with grand visions. His fate is not altogether different from that of a CEO who cannot deliver on shareholder expectations. As several of the Lakers players were diplomatically noting, it simply becomes a business decision (as does all their fates).

No doubt Harris had a killer job. Managing the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and, until this year, Nick Van Exel, required a delicate combination of guidance, leadership and discipline. If Harris had stayed on, he would have been faced with Dennis Rodman, who requires goodness knows what. Add to that the Lakers’ storied history, plus the team’s national media prominence, and it becomes clear that only a handful of coaches, if that, are suited to handle this position.

Until that savior is found, things might get pretty ugly over at the Great Western Forum (and starting next fall at Staples Center). The only solace Harris can take with him is that it’s now somebody else’s headache.

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