Heisler Column: David Stern as Charlton Heston

OK, what was that all about?

With the conductor striking up the band but no parade in sight, last week in the NBA was like “Planet of the Apes,” with the one of the lost astronauts escaping from the ruling species and gaining his freedom, only to find he’s on post-nuclear-holocaust Earth!

Not that David Stern vetoing the trade sending Chris Paul to the Lakers was as dramatic as Charlton Heston ranting, “You maniacs. You blew it all up. Damn you all to hell!” in the original version.

(Of course, that was Heston in his pre-NRA phase. I’m not sure what his stand on nuclear war is now.)

On the other hand, Stern gave us this season’s version of “taking my talents to South Beach,” with tennis player Andy Roddick tweeting he was going to lunch, adding, “I hope Stern doesn’t veto my meal.”

With a growing likelihood that if Paul is going anywhere soon, it will be to the Clippers (I’ll get to that in a moment), it will be a pleasant change to see him move in any direction after being caught in this loop in which the deal is on, off, on again, off again, etc.

In the good news for those of us competing with the elite internet reporters, you could be two steps behind and have it right, or look like you do!

Tuesday, five days after Stern’s veto, everyone was next to exhaustion tracking negotiations for CP3 and Dwight Howard that had produced … zip.

With the Laker deal spiked and Stern’s guys unable to made a deal with the Clippers, and the Knicks — CP3’s first choice –who misplaced their maximum slot, everyone was back where they started. …

Except the Lakers, who donated Lamar Odom to Dallas in what looked like the precursor to a Dwight Howard deal. …

Except the Magic then trotted out CEO Alex Martins to sound a new note after GM Otis Smith said, sure, he’d shop Dwight.

Actually, the new Magic note was just their old note:

They love Dwight and they’re going all out to keep him.

Dwight then reprised his old pre-trade-demand mantra, asserting his love for Orlando, his reluctance to leave, noting he was there now, etc.

Incredibly, unless everyone is lying to everyone in Lakerdom, the team dumped LO — yeah, the popular, 6-10 versatile one who would have been a key piece in any blockbuster trade — because Odom was upset at almost being traded, and asked to be traded, and Jerry Buss had it with Kardashian-mania, so they accommodated him.

Of course, if you believe that — and half of L.A. does, and plugged-in Chris Broussard went with it on “SportsCenter” — you have to believe the Busses are crazed morons.

Personally, I’m a long-time admirer of the family. I’d say they’re wacky and do some dumb things now and then.

Of course, everyone may not be lying to everyone else in Lakerdom.

They just might not be telling the whole truth!

This looks like part of a Howard negotiation, with the Magic telling them they don’t want Odom, they want No. 1 picks, like the one the Lakers got from Dallas.

Unfortunately for the Busses, the Howard-to-Lakers negotiations took a holiday.

(Not that the two teams said more than hello and good-bye in the first place. My bet is Orlando asked for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Kupchak would have either said ‘no’ or fainted dead away.)

So, the Lakers went from getting Paul to play with Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, to putting the same old crew from last season out there, minus Odom.

Well, it’s always darkest before the dawn in Lakerdom.

Remember Bryant raging he wanted to be traded in the summer of 2007, trying to make it happen personally that fall, seeing Bynum develop, before Memphis gave them Gasol and they wound up in the 2008 Finals?

This is way better than that!

Then there are the Clippers, who may just break the bank at Monte Carlo by landing Paul, no matter what they give up.

They’re only in this position because the Lakers put them there, getting vetoed out of the Paul talks, then trading Odom so they may not be able to get back in!

You might wonder just how a flea-bitten organization like the Clippers got into such fast company.

Nevertheless, here they are. … 

A year ago, coming off a 29-53 season in which one fired GM, Elgin Baylor, sued owner Donald Sterling, and another fired GM, Mike Dunleavy, claimed Sterling stopped paying him, the Clippers made LeBron James’ short list of five teams, invited to make presentations.

The Mavericks, who would win the title, tried to get on the list but were turned down.

This season, coming off another 32-50 dud, the Clippers made Paul’s three-team list, which became one when the Lakers dropped out and the Knicks found that freezing the salary cap at $58 million had killed their chances of going with minimum salaried guys on one-year deals to preserve a  maximum slot.

The explanation, in two words: Blake Griffin.

All but unnoticed, Dunleavy and current GM Neil Olshey had restocked the roster with talented young players, rebuilding from square one after Elton Brand’s stunning departure in 2008.

Then team president Andy Roeser stuck in his thumb and pulled out the plum of the 2009 draft, Griffin, the human fireworks show, and now it’s CachetCity.

Not that Sterling can’t screw this up, standing on his head.

I don’t know what the season will be like, but we’re not even to the exhibitions and it’s already a mind-blower.

Mark Heisler is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops. His columns appear each Monday.



  1. Larry Durstin says

    A better Heston movie comparison would be El Cid, in which the last scene shows an already dead Heston being strapped onto a horse and then riding into battle in order to inspire his followers. RIP David Stern.

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