What a Lakers full-page ad in The Times might look like
Kurt Rambis had already seen the transformation last season, changing from Lakers' assistant coach to the Minnesota Timberwolves' head coach. The losing culture, the fledgling personnel and the bitter cold served as the most vivid differences compared to the Lakers' 2009 title run, the loaded and steady roster and the year-round perfect weather.
Minnesota also recently did something the Lakers wouldn't need to do in a million years: putting out a full-page ad in the local newspaper in hopes to assuage concerns from its fan base. Among the highlights from the Timberwolves' "long-winded letter" in the back of Monday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune included the team's admission it likely won't win an NBA championship this season and a jab at Ricky Rubio. The Lakers wouldn't need to resort to these measures in buying a full-page ad for The Times, as they're eyeing a three-peat and have enjoyed being the main sports franchise in Los Angeles. But in case they were to change their mind, it might go a little something like this...
"The time for talk has begun for some, the time to begin winning another championship has begun for us.
"We don't even know why we're wasting our time with this long-winded letter. Everyone loves the Lakers. We don't need to advertise to sell tickets. And beyond just wanting training camp to start already, Lakers fans have nothing to complain about.
"Let me clarify: Lakers fans have things to complain about, just not things involving this organization. They've complained about how LeBron James made his 'Decision,' and how suddenly some believe the Super Team can take down the defending champs. They've complained about how Shaquille O'Neal joined our arch-rival, the Boston Celtics, and see it as the last act of betrayal. And they've complained that Doc Rivers recently suggested the Celtics had never lost against the Lakers with their starting five, only remembering Kendrick Perkins' injury last season but conveniently forgetting Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza sitting out in 2008.
"The time for such talk is over.
"OK, not quite. We need to write this long-winded letter just to remind everyone why we have a lot of good things to talk about.
"After the 2007 playoffs, we laid out a plan: First, we would convince Kobe Bryant he doesn't really want to be traded, and that Bynum really is valuable to our team. Second, we would keep our word to Bryant that we would build talent around him. We brought back Derek Fisher, and we acquired Pau Gasol. Third, after losing in the 2008 Finals, we vowed we would get tougher. And we have. We acquired Ron Artest and Matt Barnes, and we instilled to everyone on the team that they can't let other teams push us around. Fourth, we have an unyielding and uncompromising commitment to winning.
"Even with a lockout looming and luxury taxes on the rise, we've always stressed we'll spend whatever it takes to win. That was our plan when we re-signed Lamar Odom in 2009, gave Bryant and Gasol contract extensions and still stayed busy fine-tuning our championship ride after winning the 2010 title. In the off-season, we secured Hall of Fame coaching (Phil Jackson, kept veteran leadership (Fisher) and attracted reserve spark plugs (Steve Blake, Barnes, Theo Ratliff, Shannon Brown, Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter). We now have an even stronger bench to complement our core players. And plenty of experts are left scratching their heads wondering if we really have any weakness on our team.
"So will we challenge for the NBA championship this year? ABSOLUTELY. Will we three-peat? YOU BET. Consider this a guarantee similar to the one Pat Riley made during the 1987 championship parade. We all know how that turned out.
"This honesty thing may make us look arrogant. But the reality is, we're the Lakers. We've won 16 championships. We have featured some of the league's greatest players in Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Wilt Chamberlain, George Mikan, and, sure, we'll include Shaq. We brought Showtime to the NBA. And we haven't stopped ever since.
"We are confident the Lakers this season will be exciting to watch. It's going to be yet another year where we're the ticket in town that's hard to get. We apologize that our tickets to Staples Center are rather expensive. But the way we see it, Lakers fans would much rather see a championship team than just being able to afford to attend a game at Staples Center. Save the latter experience for the Clippers. If you do manage to save up for a Lakers ticket, everyone's said it's well worth it. They see Jack Nicholson courtside. They see Dustin Hoffman on Kiss Cam. And they see a championship team in a festive atmosphere.
"Enough talk. It's time to play. Oh, wait. We forgot to talk about how great it was to get rid of Kwame Brown. Next time."
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Kobe Bryant waves to fans lining Figueroa Street during the Lakers victory parade in June. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.
Photo: Bryant and teammates wave to the crowd from the open-top bus rolling along Figueroa Street as a fan photographs the scene on his cellphone. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times.
Photo: Ron Artest and Bryant react to the crowd along the route of the Lakers victory parade. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.