A month ago, according to Laker sources, a communication problem developed between some Laker players and Coach Pat Riley. But after a team meeting during which General Manager Jerry West served as moderator, the problems were ironed out, even though one source had characterized the situation as "a lot of unrest."
Riley termed last month's session a normal team meeting, and co-captain Magic Johnson called it "a small thing." Whatever it was, those involved say it is behind the Lakers now and that they are a better team because of it.
"There was a small thing back then," Johnson said. "If there ever was a real problem, we wouldn't be where we are now. When it's a big problem, your performance suffers."
Riley would not elaborate on the subjects discussed, calling that "family business." But Riley and co-captains Johnson and Michael Cooper did let on that it involved an explanation of the reasons behind part of Riley's on-court strategy.
"It had nothing to do with anything except the dynamics of what it takes to be a team," Riley said. "It was about the spirit of attitude and the spirit of understanding roles. It was a meeting I called, and everything was discussed and worked out. It was a very positive meeting.
"Maybe I was driving them a little too hard. But it wasn't anything that created a real problem."
Johnson described what he termed a gap in communication between Riley and the players.
"(The meeting) was (to explain) why he was doing some of the things he was doing," Johnson said. "It was about players' roles, I mean, everybody on the team. Why he did what he did. Before, he'd explain why. Maybe he just forgot about that part."
Cooper said West did not play a major role in the meeting.
"He (West) is part of the team, so he was in on it," Cooper said. "Every team has one of these (meetings). Everything was rectified. If we had a lingering problem, it would be evident in our record. We just sorted everything out, redefined roles."
Said West, who periodically sits in on meetings and reportedly told the team to focus on its success: "Every year, we have meetings where we discuss things. It's one of the strengths of this organization that we have this type of communication. I didn't view that (meeting) as a problem."
Riley said last month's meeting was minor compared to those of past seasons.
"You're going to have disagreements on a team," Riley said. "Maybe it's good to have (meetings) once or twice a year. But this one happened a month ago, and everything has taken care of itself. We've had meetings that were a lot more severe than this over the last decade. You guys just don't know about them."