LOS ANGELES — Did you see the one where the late owner’s son said he’d fire himself in a few years if the team he helped run into the ground still stunk by then, and if he didn’t bolt, that he’d probably be fired by his own sister — the president of their family-run outfit — and replaced, likely, by her longtime fiancé?
What about the one where the sister and her fiancé split, then she hired back one of their outfit’s most beloved familiar faces, then cleaned house — and, yes, fired her brother — while promoting that familiar face to an executive position for which he has no prior experience?
Or how about the latest one, where two of the sister’s older brothers tried to oust her, and so, in retaliation, she filed a temporary restraining order and a lawsuit?
The Los Angeles Lakers also moonlight as a basketball team, sort of, but right now, their off-the-court drama challenges any daytime soap opera for bizarre twists and turns.
Every episode seems to top the last, as Friday’s chaos proved yet again.
And while one of the NBA’s crown-jewel franchises was thrashed by its archrival at Staples Center, Lakers governor and president Jeanie Buss watched from her usual seat near the baseline. At one point in the third quarter, when the Boston Celtics led by 31, actress Dyan Cannon came over from her baseline seat.
The Hollywood icon placed both hands on Buss’s arms in a comforting embrace, and as she spoke, Buss nodded. Amid a painful 115-95 blowout loss, it wasn’t an uncommon scene, as Buss received many hugs and, no doubt, words of encouragement from friends as her family’s infighting continues to drag the Lakers down.
But it’s hard to imagine the Lakers’ drama playing out in Cannon’s world just up the 101 freeway.
At this point, even Hollywood might think such a script strays too far from reality.
For the Lakers, though, it was just another day.
Most damning for the Lakers is their timing. Last week, when Jeanie Buss canned longtime Lakers executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak and hired Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations, it seemed to, at the very least, give the Lakers some much-needed clarity.
Even if Johnson has zero front-office experience, it was clear that he’d at least be in charge. Such a thing might seem minuscule, but there were considerable doubts about the Lakers’ leadership entering this summer, when Jim Buss’ self-imposed timeline was scheduled to expire.
The Lakers enjoyed the glow of Johnson’s arrival — and the sense of direction it seemed to promise — for a little more than a week before they descended further into madness, which probably won’t help them recruit promising executives if they hope to build out their front office.
On one hand, the Lakers are endlessly interesting and still manage to dominate the news cycle, even though they have the NBA’s second-worst record, will miss the postseason for their fourth consecutive season, are coming off their worst record in franchise history and can’t point to any clear path that will lead one of the league’s premier teams out of its lowest moment.
On the other hand, their constant displays of dysfunction, which apparently knows no bounds, only raises more questions, causes more doubt and potentially sets them even further back in their rebuilding process.
Consider: The Lakers have struck out on all their top free-agent targets in the past four summers and couldn’t even get a meeting with Kevin Durant in 2016 … and that was all before this latest tumult, which will last for who knows how long.
But Friday marks a fitting time to discuss Durant, specifically, with the Celtics in town. The Celtics were never considered a free-agent destination, yet as they’ve steadily risen in recent years, that notion has changed a bit. And Boston became one of a handful of teams with which Durant sat down last summer, and the Celtics ultimately reeled in All-Star forward Al Horford, the top available free agent after Durant.
The Celtics last reached the NBA Finals in 2010, when they faced the Lakers. Yet since that point, both organizations have headed in opposite directions, rapidly so. One is focused on basketball, the other on everything but.
The Lakers are reality TV, every episode more surreal than the last.