The title is misleading in a way. Why? Because Byron Scott and Kobe Bryant didn’t make grumpy faces about Jeremy Lin. They were angry at the way Jordan Hill, Carlos Boozer and Nick Young behaved after the Los Angeles Lakers finally ended their losing streak. As if players on a terrible team aren’t allowed to celebrate.
The Lakers are tanking partially because of the whole situation with Kobe Bryant. Not his injury, but his salary, and his leech like attachment to the team, sucking the vitality out of it. Bryant loves showing off his title rings, work ethic and serious demeanor. But just because he forgot how to have fun on the floor doesn’t mean the rest of the players who are actually playing and forced to get toyed around by an incompetent coach need to drown themselves in depression and self pity.
And Byron Scott? His criticism over the whole thing seems ridiculous. Yes, the Lakers are in full tanking mode, and Scott is complying with the company line. He’s making idiotic substitutions, using the weirdest and worst lineups possible, the timing of his changes is intentional to kill off any momentum and hurt the confidence of the team’s leading players. And he seems surprised that the players were actually happy to taste victory after such a long time? We get that Scott and Bryant have championship rings. It doesn’t make them any more helpful at the moment.
It just goes to show something most of us already know about tanking: Players don’t do it. Teams decide on it, and coaches comply. Players want to win and play well, all the time. Sometimes it clashes with individual desires of seeing your own name on the headline of a newspaper or the title of a post on a website, but no player actually wants to lose or do badly on purpose. After losing seven games in a row, it was only natural some happiness was going to be shown.
Lin was in the middle of that celebrating group, but didn’t do much but smile. He did his talking on the court with a terrific performance in overtime and the fourth quarter to carry the Lakers to victory over the Celtics. You could see by the way the fans reacted they were just as delirious and happy with what was happening on the court. Tanking, sadly, is a legitimate way of handling your franchise in the NBA, but no one said the players need to try and lose each time and look sad from now until the end of this season.
The injury to Ronnie Price might force Scott to put Lin on the floor more than he’d like to, although there were quite a few games with Price getting ignored completely. If only Scott had ignored Price from the beginning of this season, maybe the Lakers would be in less of a historically bad situation. But that’s in the past. The future is more interesting. Losing doesn’t have to be the only thing on the players’ mind. There’s nothing wrong with seasoning it from time to time with a win here and there.
Bryant cares about himself. About his legacy. About his ring. About some false sense of Lakers pride he’s wearing on his frown each time he shows up on TV, trying to educate the world about how Laker players should behave. But he’s part of creating this mess, and has no right to criticize players for celebrating. Scott has an actual role on this team and what the coach says should be how things go, but when you’re coached by someone who shouldn’t be allowed to stand and give orders from the sideline, it’s not surprising to see such elation from players knowing their being held back by his own incompetence.