Trade Plaschke; Not LeBron

By T.J. Simers

You are going to read another “Isn’t LeBron James just the greatest” columns from Bill Plaschke in the LA Times tomorrow morning. He wrote it last night, but the newspaper was in no rush to get it to its readers. But it’s online now.

And it makes me laugh, one day Plaschke wanting the guy to clean out his locker and the next genuflecting before him.

The headline atop Plaschke’s column online now reads: “Beating Grizzlies with his grit, LeBron James claims full ownership of the Lakers.” It’s not true, but it relays Plaschke’s sentiments.

The headline atop his column last year read: “The Lakers Must Trade LeBron.”

“Right now, for their own survival, the Lakers pretty much need him to leave,” wrote Plaschke. Maybe he meant, for the Grizzlies survival, LeBron needs to leave.

A little later after his LeBron must go column,, while doing an interview on Doug Gottlieb’s show, Plaschke said Phil Jackson would like to see LeBron traded, a pretty significant endorsement to Plaschke’s column.

That is, if Jackson said it. When Gottlieb asked Plaschke on air about Jackson’s pronouncement, Plaschke said, “I’ve just heard that, but I’ve got nothing to back that up.”

Not a good thing if you are a newspaperman

It didn’t matter, though, because it was Plaschke, instant credibility you know without checking the facts. The Internet picked up Plaschke’s comment and reported that a LA columnist said that he’s heard Phil Jackson wants LeBron traded. I’m sure it was probably great fodder for Around the Horn.

Later, Plaschke reported that LBron had hinted that he wanted to be traded.

“His message is clear,” wrote Plaschke, even though he supposedly only hinted. “Get me help or get me out of here. The response from Laker management should be just as clear: See ya.”

All that sounds like someone’s concerted effort to railroad the guy out of town—odd when there are a number of basketball experts who say the guy is really good.

Or, as Shaquille O’Neal put it, “If you trade LeBron, you’ll never win again.”

There has been the suggestion in the LA Times that LeBron has made no connection to the city of Los Angeles or the Lakers’ fan base, which is the city of Los Angeles. It didn’t sound like that Monday night, but the newspaper would know better.

I’ve never been a really big fan of LeBron’s because I got to know and watch Kobe Bryant at work. His personality, charisma and in-your-face competitive drive was overwhelming. LeBron was more athletically gifted, and I don’t think Kobe would have disagreed, but LeBron has never been as showy as Kobe.

And I was gone by the time LeBron arrived to win another title for the Lakers.

But I watched Monday night and when he scored to send the Lakers’ playoff game into overtime, he just rolled like a tank to the right side and scored a layup. Kobe would have dribbled through his legs, gone left, and then right and then leaped to the rafters before scoring and splashing to the floor.

Whatever your pleasure, LeBron’s team went on to win.

I can’t think of a single thing LeBron has done wrong since coming to LA, although maybe Plaschke could advise differently. Most parents only ask for an athletic role model who is perfect, the world in short supply, but LeBron comes pretty close.

I know he’s got a Jim Gray in his background, a powerful agent and a son being shoved down our throats, but he stands pretty tall as the ideal representative for the Los Angeles Lakers.

I know he’s 38, and by the standard of some he’s old. I’m 72 and don’t consider myself old; I was willing to go back to work for the declining Times and meet deadlines.

I also know he didn’t look old when I watched him put No. 2 Memphis on the verge of elimination. I’ve always thought Memphis should be eliminated.

I do worry now that Plaschke might be getting old, willing to scrap a once-in-a-generation superstar for the best that Rob Pelinka could find. If not old, was he just writing a cheap column to get attention?

I know something about that, but when I referred to the Dodgers as the Choking Dogs, they were.

Maybe Plaschke has changed his mind now, thinking the Lakers could never have gotten this far without the splendid work of LeBron. Maybe.

He changes his mind a lot, you know, while taking firm stands.

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