The real problem with Rob Pelinka

usa today 12747182.0 - The real problem with Rob Pelinka

We have that and more in Wednesday’s NBA newsletter.

A big ESPN exposé of the Lakers under Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson, Rich Paul, and Rob Pelinka dropped on Tuesday. Penned by Baxter Holmes, it detailed how Magic was a bad boss who made his staff anxious, Pelinka is a total bulls–t artist, Paul is an agitant and accelerator on behalf of LeBron James, and Jeanie is a … I don’t know, it kind of presented Jeanie as a dilettante? A total amateur? A grand disappointment to her dead, successful father? I don’t know. Jeanie remains a black box in much coverage of the Lakers’ continued exceptionalist failures.

Anyway, the primary anecdote that caught fire is Pelinka being caught in a lie about Kobe Bryant having dinner with a dead Heath Ledger. (This whole thing is kind of dark, no?) Pelinka had invited The Rock to speak to the team at the practice facility as a part of a series of, uh, lectures Pelinka dubbed “Genius Talks.” At some point in the talk, Pelinka shared that Kobe had watched The Dark Knight before playing at the Knicks and was so impressed by Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker that he had Pelinka arrange dinner between the two so Kobe could pick Ledger’s brain about he got so locked in for a role.

The problem, Holmes and previously the Emmy Award winning NBA Desktop discovered, is that Ledger died six months before the release of The Dark Knight, making the timeline basically impossible unless Kobe saw a cut of the movie seven months before release. (The Lakers played the Knicks in New York a few weeks before Ledger’s death.)

Everyone is focusing on how this proves Pelinka is a tactless liar, which … yes, that’s true. But it’s even worse. Look at it again: Pelinka thought sharing a made-up story about a former Laker wanting to meet the dude who used method acting to portray a comic book villain in a movie was a useful story to share with current players, who were assembled to listen to a pep talk from an action movie star. This is starf–king inanity at its worst.

We’ve long joked that Pelinka is the real-life version of Chris Traeger from Parks and Rec because he looks like Rob Lowe, is relentlessly positive, and has a complete library of personal improvement bestsellers. But actually, Pelinka is Michael Scott from The Office. A somewhat less earnest and innocent Michael Scott. The bizarre twisted analogies, the deep self-obsession, the apparent incompetence. It’s all there.

(Does this make Magic Robert California?)

Mike Prada and I both think the Raptors are going to win the NBA Finals, and we offered up six reasons why. I think Mike’s point about Toronto’s incredible defense and my point about Kevin Durant’s continued absence are the keys here. The Raptors’ defense from Games 3 through 6 of that Bucks series was simply incredible. And we have no good sense as to whether Durant will actually play in Game 2, in Game 3, or at all. That’s obviously huge!

We’ll see. The series begins Thursday.


What the revelations of the ESPN story actually mean for the Lakers.

The other funny anecdote from the story is Rich Paul stalking Adam Silver at dinner with Mav Carter and asking him to do something about Luke Walton. Incredible.

Zito Madu on what we learned about Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Eastern Conference finals.

R.J. Hampton is a top-5 recruit with no apparent eligibility issues, yet he decided to spend next season not at one of the top college programs recruiting him hard but in New Zealand playing in the Australia-based National Basketball League. The NBL has focused on trying to recruit one-and-done prospects to get paid down under, and it appears to be working. Ricky O’Donnell thinks it’s the perfect fit for Hampton.

Most of this BEEF HISTORY on Lauren Jackson and Lisa Leslie and HAIR GETTING PULLED OUT was news to me.

Dan Devine with five enormous questions entering the Finals.

Serge Ibaka is back in the NBA Finals before James Harden or Russell Westbrook. Blessed be the night.

How the G League has made its mark on the Finals.

Marc Stein with some reporting on what Adam Silver wants to do with an in-season tournament.

It sounds like DeMarcus Cousins is going to play in the NBA Finals, which is a life-affirming sentence for me to type.

On the Raptors making the Finals and closure.

Nekias Duncan surveys the WNBA after opening weekend.

Kevin O’Connor on Masai Ujiri’s gamble on Kawhi Leonard.


Be excellent to each other.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *