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Shaq and Mitch and Kobe and Phil, Oh My!

June 26, 2004

Were Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss watching the same NBA Finals I was watching? And if so, why are they talking about trading the guy who shot 63%, and not the guy who shot 38% -- and kept shooting?

Ron Corcillo

North Hollywood


Dr. Buss, are you really in such a hurry to go back to the glory days of Del Harris?

Stephen J. Smith



Why is Mitch Kupchak interviewing replacements for Phil Jackson?

It's Kobe's team. Make him do it.

Burt Collette

Rancho Mirage


When will the Lakers learn? In 1990, they let go of Pat Riley after all of the championships he'd brought in the 1980s. It was another decade before the Lakers won a title in 2000, after finally signing Phil Jackson. Now, they let Jackson go.

Get ready, Laker fans, it could be another 10 years before this town sees a parade.

Hershel Remer

Los Angeles


The day that the Lakers let Phil Jackson go was the day they decided they no longer had the desire to be an elite team.

As a now former Laker fan of 30 years, I identify with the words of Gary Payton: "I didn't sign up for this."

Thank you, Phil, for your five years in Los Angeles. I -- and the Laker fans who enjoy winning more than theater -- will miss you.

Alan Elliott

Los Angeles


Phil Jackson is shown the door and Jim Tracy is still here? Somewhere the sports gods are laughing (or crying).

Richard Turner



So Gary Payton stays on for another year, and Derek Fisher opts out. We lose one of two Lakers who showed class and 100% effort during the entire season -- the other, Karl Malone, most likely will retire -- and are stuck instead with the Big Whiner.

Forget the Shaq-Kobe-Phil soap opera. The Fisher-Payton debacle is a perfect illustration of the deep problems at the heart of the Laker organization.

Mitch Kupchak, you have much to answer for.

Bonnie Sloane

Los Angeles


Because any trade involving Shaq must be for players with comparable salaries, I've done the math and figure that he can be traded for the entire starting lineup of the Detroit Pistons.

P.J. Gendell

Beverly Hills


The Lakers remind me of the new millennium's version of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys. Jerry West (Jimmy Johnson) builds a powerhouse and the Lakers win three championships. The club owner decides West (Johnson) is expendable and turns the reins over to Mitch Kupchak (Barry Switzer). Inheriting a proven winner with a wealth of talent, Kupchak (Switzer) uses his questionable ability, lack of foresight and stupid trades to promptly run right into the ground the preeminent franchise in his sport.

Dr. Buss, how long will we have to endure Mitch Kupchak (read Switzer, Chan Gailey and Dave Campo) before you right the ship?

Cy Bolton

Alta Loma


Jerry Buss, why would you go to Europe during the most important time your franchise could possibly be facing? What message are you sending to your current employees, your future employees (potential free agents), and your fans by skipping town during this tiny window of huge importance?

Jason Nyhan



In blasting Jerry Buss for choosing Kobe Bryant, Bill Plaschke [June 19] claims there are a handful of guys like Kobe, before admitting that his comparison doesn't include the last few minutes of a game. Which, by the way, is when most NBA games are decided, and when Shaq becomes a liability because he refuses to learn how to shoot a free throw.

Plaschke then adds that none of the "Kobes" are "capable of winning a championship by themselves," again neglecting the fact that Shaq never won any type of championship past high school, until he was paired with Kobe.

Tom Lynch



While I actually agree with Bill Plaschke that making the Lakers "Kobe's team" is a dicey proposition and losing Phil Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal are bad for the team, I was shocked by his assertion that Shaq is "the best center in NBA history."

That's an insult to Russell, Chamberlain, Abdul Jabbar, Olajuwon and others who actually cared enough to play hard and had respect for the game.

Plaschke, you are officially the head of the Shaquille O'Neal Fan Club, and if the Lakers ship him out of town, you can go with him.

Jon Castro



Mark Heisler wrote that Jerry Buss made a choice to build a team around Kobe instead of Shaq.

I think Mr. Buss made a choice between who thinks of money before playing and who plays before thinking of money.

Romeo Valenzuela



So Shaq again thinks he is being scapegoated for the Lakers' problems? This is one bandwagon I will jump on. Shaq deserves a lot of the blame.

He notes that the franchise is not moving in the right direction, but never stops to realize that his hefty salary and obscene demands for even more money are crippling the team's ability to get younger and more talented.

Buss is a smarter businessman than most people give him credit for. He's simply selling stock that's on the way down and reinvesting in other areas of more potential growth.

Tom Cheng



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