The Lakers are moving toward taking one of the biggest gambles of the summer, trading for Kyrie Irving to return them to contender status. It’s a move LeBron James is reportedly backing, but last summer he pushed for the trade to bring in Russell Westbrook and that didn’t exactly work out. Irving was a disruptive force in Brooklyn and was at the heart of what went wrong for the Nets (even if Irving doesn’t see it that way).
It’s a big gamble for Los Angeles, and it is the level of decision Lakers governor/controlling owner Jeanie Buss would have to sign off on. Which brings us to her Sunday night Tweet.
I miss KB. He would understand and explain everything that I’m not allowed to. Honestly he was the greatest Laker ever. He understood team over self. Meaning your rewards would come if you valued team goals over your own then everything would fall into place. All can reply.
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) July 4, 2022
There are two ways to look at this, and they are not mutually exclusive.
One is simply that she misses her friend Kobe. There are a lot of Lakers fans and a lot of NBA fans who feel the same way. He was taken from us far too early.
However, it’s not a huge leap to see this as her missing his council on moves like trading for Irving. “He understood team over self. Meaning your rewards would come if you valued team goals over your own then everything would fall into place” can be read as Buss questioning the wisdom of bringing Irving into the Lakers’ culture. Irving was not a good fit with the culture in Brooklyn or Boston before that. What will happen in Los Angeles (even in a locker room where LeBron is the alpha and sets the tone)? Not that the Lakers have a lot of choice, they do not have another path back to contention outside of Irving, and with LeBron at age 37 they can’t be patient.
The Lakers have an unusual inner circle at the top, with Kurt and Linda Rambis holding a lot of power, Rob Pelina is in that mix (for now), and the other five Buss family members have their voices heard as well. Jeanie Buss has said previously she consults with Magic Johnson and Phil Jackson.
It sounds like, at a critical moment, she misses Kobe’s voice, too. And misses Kobe.