LOS ANGELES — The organizer of a protest over the state of the Los Angeles Lakers says the issues with the team boil down to one thing: decision-making on a front-office level.
Charlie Rivers, a 22-year-old Arizona college student who says he drove from the Phoenix area to take part in the protest he launched this week on social media, said he was happy with the results of his efforts.
“I think I already got it — media coverage, have the talking heads speak about it, analysts talk about the inept decision-making by the front office, basketball operations needing a change up there,” Rivers said. “I don’t mean it to be a personal attack on Jeanie Buss or anything like that. I just don’t agree with their decision-making on a front-office level.
“Nepotism shouldn’t be involved when it comes to decision-making.”
Fans numbering 35 to 40 drew an even larger group of media and onlookers Friday outside the main entrance of the Staples Center. Chants rang out as several fans held protest signs. But looks of anger and concern common with many protests were absent, replaced mostly with laughing smiles of content.
Rivers, born and raised in Anaheim, California, said he was a lifelong Lakers fan who moved to Arizona with his family in 2008.
“I’m just like anybody else, I just have my opinion,” said Rivers, who used the social media site Reddit to organize the protest. “I don’t fell any different than anyone. But I feel that my opinion picked up steam and a people resonated with it. Somebody said ‘If you feel so strongly about this, why don’t you start a protest?’ So I did.”
The message of one of the signs held as “No more Rambis!” chants rang out was clear: Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka equal an image of LeBron James — with his eyes shut.
“This is based solely on the front office and their decision-making,” Rivers said. “I understand LeBron is only going to be here three to four years. That’s fine. When he’s up there in age, that’s alright. This is moreso about the direction the organization’s been taking ever since Dr. Buss passed away. Whether it’s Jim Buss, Jeannie Buss — things have been toxic, and I feel like people around Jeanie don’t have her best interest at heart and they’re making political moves to keep themselves on the job. And ultimately that’s going to hinder the effectiveness of the organization.”
The protest unfolded as the Lakers were reportedly set to interview their sixth head coaching candidate since firing Luke Walton a month ago. Former Indiana Pacers coach Vogel was flying to Los Angeles on Thursday for the interview, league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
It also came a day after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, in an impromptu interview with TMZ, called the city “a Clippers town.”
“Right now, it’s a Clippers town,” Garcetti said. “I’m Lakers ’til the day I die. But I love Clippers. I don’t hate ’em.”
Superfan “Cipper Darrell” appeared in front of the Staples Center as the protest continued, drawing his own crowd.
He told some of those gathered that there was little reason for Lakers fans to hold hope.
“With social media now, players don’t have to come to Los Angeles,” he said.