The battle of Los Angeles has unofficially begun! I am not referring to the movie “Battle of L.A.” and no, it is not your standard good versus evil war that we have all grown to love. It is battle of the bad, the horrible. It is the battle of Los Angeles’ two biggest disappointments, not only in the city, in their respective sports as well.
On one side of the coin, you have the Los Angeles Lakers. They have a team full of stars, yet they have to go on a hot streak just to get back to .500.
On the other side of the coin is the USC Trojans men’s basketball team. The Trojans are the Pac-12 Conference’s current punching bag.
Who has the upper hand in this battle of awful teams?
You be the judge.
The Lakers have four, future Hall of Famers on their roster in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Unlike their L.A. college counterparts, there is clearly some talent on this team. It does not matter if they have comparable complimentary players to fill out the roster. The Miami Heat won the NBA Championship last season with role players who would not get off the bench for this Lakers’ team.
Kobe is one of the best scorers in league history. The Lakers should have a winning record with his inclusion alone. When you add a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year winner, a two-time MVP and arguably the most versatile frontcourt player in basketball, you have to do better than 20-25.
While some observers blame an untimely coaching change for the Lakers’ ills, team chemistry is what bothers them the most. Kobe and Howard have to be on the same page if the team is to have any success. Can the two of them get along for the greater good of the franchise is the biggest question they face going forward.
Kobe plays with an edge that is reticent of Michael Jordan in his heyday. His approach to the game of basketball is business-like. Howard on the other hand looks to enjoy the sport. He is fun-loving and that does not appear to be a great fit.
Instead of pointing the fingers at Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni, the lack of cohesion is the culprit.
Are the Lakers more disappointing than the Trojans?
It depends on the goals for both teams.
In the short-term, the Lakers are undoubtedly the most disappointing team in Los Angeles. It is tough to give the Trojans a pass here, especially once you gaze into their long-term failures.
Former head coach Kevin O’Neil had an abysmal 45-61record with the team before he was fired on January 14. His firing ended an era mired in futility and disappointments. One of O’Neil’s lowlights came in 2011, when he was suspended from the team after an altercation with an Arizona Wildcat team booster.
It is easy to suggest that the hiring of Kevin O’Neil set the Trojans back a few years. His recruiting classes were undesirable at best. Given the southern California backdrop as a top-notch lure, recruiting should have been the least of the Trojans worries. Unfortunately, according to Rivals.com the Trojans have signed only two four-star recruits in O’Neil’s tenure.
The current team is a mess. They are 228th in the scoring (65.3 PPG), 182th in rebounding (34.9 RPG) and 193rd in assists (12.5 APG). The Trojans worst losses of the season were a 30-point thrashing that came at the hands of the Illinois Fighting Illini in their third game. Their second bad loss was against UC-Irvine. The city of Los Angeles deserves better than this.
The Lakers have more talent to work with so their disappointing season has a chance to take turn for the better. Lakers’ fans can rest assure that the playoffs will begin with them as a participant. You cannot say the same for the Trojans.
The Trojans are without hope for the remainder of the year. The hole created by Kevin O’Neil is too insurmountable to overcome in just a few months. They can only hope for a brighter tomorrow. In the present time, the Trojans are Los Angeles’ biggest basketball disappointment.