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What’s Wrong With the Los Angeles Lakers

  • April 08, 2021

The recent death of Elgin Baylor had me venting anew about what a shame it is that Baylor’s offensive brilliance isn’t as appreciated as it should be because television footage from the 1960s and 1970s was not as widely distributed as it should have been, compared with, say, baseball footage from past eras. When I started covering the Los Angeles Clippers in February 1994, Baylor was the general manager and I told him that, to that point, I had scarcely seen five minutes of his playing career. This was years before the advent of NBA TV, of course, so the Clippers called N.B.A. Entertainment in Secaucus, N.J., to assemble a Baylor highlight reel on VHS tape for my edification.

A.B.A. footage, as you can imagine, was even more scarce, though thankfully there’s a smattering on YouTube now. I can’t remember seeing any in my formative years as a basketball fan. The red, white and blue ball was all I knew.

Q: ⁦‪More watchable than the Larry Johnson-Alonzo Mourning-Muggsy Bogues Hornets of the early 1990s? — @BBH821510 from Twitter

Stein: I got a few responses like this on Saturday when I tweeted about the Hornets losing Gordon Hayward for at least four weeks to a sprained right foot.

Just for some fun, and perhaps in a bow to the hyperbolic nature of social media, I have been referring to Charlotte this season as the Most Watchable Hornets Ever. It’s my go-to hat tip to these Hornets given how entertaining they’ve been since drafting LaMelo Ball in November, signing Hayward in free agency and combining those two with Terry Rozier, whose player efficiency rating is at a career-best 17.7.

The Hornets teams that featured Johnson, Mourning and Bogues are remembered with great fondness by Charlotte’s fans and duly respected here. Charlotte also had some strong teams in the back half of the 1990s, after trading away both Johnson and Mourning — but I think it actually helps my case if you have to rewind that far, to a time long before the N.B.A. League Pass era, to come up with a counter.

Q: What happens when a team forfeits a draft pick as the Milwaukee Bucks did in the Bogdan Bogdanovic case? Will there still be 60 players selected in that draft? — Yul Bessori (Israel)

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