By Brandon Niles, Explorebigsky.com Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES—Both NBA
teams from the City of Angels,
the Lakers and Clippers, started
this past season with high hopes
but ended with bitter, second
round playoff defeats. After
harrowing finishes to the first
round match-ups, both were
outmatched by their second
round opponents, winning only
one game between them before
ending their respective seasons.
This must have been particularly
painful for the Lakers, who prior to the
season executed a trade for All-Star
point guard Chris Paul, only to have
the deal shot down in a controversial
move by the league commissioner.
Paul was subsequently traded to the
Clippers, and became a large part of the
Clippers success this year.
Paul is arguably the best point guard
in the game. Had the Lakers efforts
not been thwarted they would have
stood a much better chance against the
Oklahoma City Thunder. One can only
speculate what would’ve happened had
Paul been a Laker instead of a Clipper.
After a disappointing end for both
teams, fans have continued questioning
the decision by NBA commissioner
David Stern to veto the trade for Paul.
Paul at the time played for the New
Orleans Hornets, a team owned by the
league while searching for a new owner.
Despite declaring autonomy for Hornets
general manager Dell Demps, the
league stepped in and vetoed the trade
after pressure from other owners.
But soon after, a blockbuster deal sent
the All-Star point guard to pair with
Clippers young talent Blake Griffin,
and also brought young talent and draft
picks to the Hornets. This was a great
trade for the Hornets, who received tremendous
value for Paul, who had long
been their franchise cornerstone.
However, the Lakers trade for Paul was
fair, and when the league stepped in,
many fans believe it over-stepped its
bounds. The fact that the trade with
the Clippers occurred so soon after the
Laker trade was vetoed continues to be
viewed in most circles as a suspicious
scandal that hurt the credibility of the
longtime commissioner. Seemingly,
the other owners were upset the Lakers
would be able to extend a period of
dominance that had lasted for over a
decade, so they stopped it from happening.
Despite the interference, the Lakers had
a solid season and made it to the second
round of the playoffs. With their aging
roster, it’s difficult to imagine the Lakers’
next step. If general manager Mitch
Kupchak stays with the organization,
he’ll have difficult decisions to make in
the coming off-season.
Most notably, Kupchak will have to
come up with another big trade to keep
the team competitive. And this time,
he’ll have to hope the rest of the league
doesn’t whine too loudly about it and
pressure a weak commissioner into
over-stepping his authority again.
In the meantime, Lakers fans will be
left to wonder about what could have
happened in 2012 had Chris Paul
donned a one of their jerseys.
Brandon Niles has done online freelance
writing about professional sports since
2007. His articles range from NFL news
to team-specific commentary. A Communication
Studies graduate student
at the University of North Carolina
Greensboro, Niles is also an avid Miami
Dolphins fan, which has led to his becoming
an avid Scotch whisky fan over the