Lakers fire head coach Frank Vogel

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Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel amassed a record of 127-98 during his tenure. Screen shot

After disappointing 33-49 season

LOS ANGELES (CNS)—Just two years removed from their 17th NBA championship, the Lakers today fired head coach Frank Vogel, a move that had been widely expected after a disappointing season that ended without a berth in the playoffs.


Vogel completed his third season with the team on Sunday, with Lakers recording a 146-141 overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets. But the team finished the season with a 33-49 record, good for just fourth place in the Pacific Division.


"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frank both on and off the court," Rob Pelinka, Lakers vice pres- ident of basketball operations and general manager, said in a statement.


"Frank is a great coach and a good man. We will forever be grateful to him for his work in guiding us to the 2019-20 NBA championship. This is an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one we feel is necessary at this point. All of us here with Frank and his wonderful family all the best for the future."


The Lakers also tweeted, "Thank you, coach," accompanied by a picture of Vogel holding the championship trophy.


The 48-year-old Vogel led the Lakers a 52-19 record in the 2019-20 season, his first year with the team, as the league held the playoffs in its "bubble" in Orlando, Florida, to protect players from the surging coronavirus pan-
demic. But the team couldn't match that success in Vogel's subsequent two seasons, despite the presence of stars such as LeBron James and Anthony Davis.


Last year the team finished 42-30 and was ousted from the playoffs in the first round—while this season, with James and Davis both battling injuries, the Lakers missed the postseason. Vogel compiled a 127-98 record
during his time with the team.


Injuries played a huge role in the team's troubles this season, as they were able to have their three biggest stars— James, Davis and Russell Westbrook—play only 21 games together. As a result, Vogel was forced to conjure a patchwork of lineups, with continuity always elusive.


Vogel's job had reportedly been in jeopardy for some time, and Sunday ESPN reported the Lakers would make the move as soon as Monday.


Vogel on Sunday reacted testily to that report, saying after the team's season-ending victory,  "My reaction is, I haven't been told (s---), and I'm going to enjoy tonight's game and celebrate what these young guys did in terms of scratching and clawing and getting back into this game and getting a W. We'll deal with tomorrow, tomorrow."


Monday, before the team's official announcement of Vogel's dismissal, James was asked about the report, and said, "I respect Frank as a coach and as a man. ... I have nothing but respect for him."

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Los Angeles Clippers artist rendering

Sportswriter At-large

 

Intuit Dome: ‘A basketball palazzo’ cometh destined for Inglewood

First up. At the outset of the 2021-22 season of the National Football League, it’s only fitting to report the great Jim Brown, formerly of Syracuse University and the NFL Cleveland Browns, was enshrined with a bronze statue Sept. 4, outside of Brown Stadium… After each home game at SoFi Stadium during the 2021 NFL season, Los Angeles Rams Tackle and team captain Andrew Whitworth will make a $20,000 donation to help repair homes in his home state of Louisiana and move Angelenos facing housing insecurity into homes as part of his “Big Whit Homes for LA Families” program, Now that’s benevolence.

Now to the biggest news of the week involving Inglewood, Calif. Groundbreaking finally occurred on the $1.8 billion Intuit Dome arena, the future home of the Los Angeles Clippers at the corner of South Prairie Avenue and West Century Boulevard.

Superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined owner Steve Ballmer in the ground breaking on Friday, Sept. 17, thrusting chrome-tipped shovels into a ceremonial make-shift box of soil where the 18,000-seat arena will be built. The architectural design will seat fans closer to the court and Steve Ballmer, owner and Clippers No. 1 fan excitedly described some of the distinguishing hallmarks the forthcoming arena will offer. Ballmer promised state-of-the-art technology featuring a two-sided oval scoreboard with 44,000 square feet of LED lights, about 37,000 than most current NBA scoreboards.

 

“I like to think about the Dome as a basketball palazzo—homage to the game of basketball,” Ballmer said. “It’s not the Hall of Fame, but with as many championships as we’re going to win here, it’ll be better than the Hall of Fame.” 

Ballmer expressed glee that upon completion, the Intuit Dome will offer the Clippers and the organization an arena of their own. The ceremony had the air of a pep rally with special guests in attendance from local and state officials, players and team executives, to specially-selected fans. The energy that resonated was the LA Clippers’ eagerness to create its own brand and space away from Staples Center and the co-tenant arrangement with the Lakers, Kings, and Sparks. The entire Clippers business operations will be housed beneath a solar-panel-clad roof.

“If you share a building with not one, but two teams, it’s a very difficult task, it really is,” said Jerry West, the former Lakers great, NBA Hall-of-Famer, and consultant to Ballmer and Clippers executives since 2017. “For the players, when they go to the Intuit Dome, they know this building is dedicated to them.”

“It will be a fresh start in a new arena that [will be] Home Sweet Home,” Ballmer said.

 

Ballmer purchased the team in 2014, initially planning to remain downtown LA long-term, but within a year the Clippers organization was scouting locations spurred by a need to distinguish the team’s identity. In 2016 Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts and Ballmer met at the Marina-Del-Rey Ritz-Carlton to discuss a basketball arena whose construction is only now beginning after years of costly legal wrangling. The Clippers did not take
possession of the final parcels of land for the complex until summer this year after the City acquired the remaining land through eminent domain. 

 

Ballmer recounted the months of jousting back and forth and said with a chuckle— “Mayor Butts, boy," he sighed, "we’ve been through it.” 

 

Now, just three years remains to deliver “the singular best place for fans and players throughout the World,” Ballmer said. By the way, the roof of the Dome will be emblazoned with the brand Intuit, the Silicon Valley-based software
company best known for Turbo Tax, whose licensing agreement is 23 years for an undisclosed sum.

   

Ballmer shared a host of digital technology firsts for a sports arena, including a 4700-seat section behind the opposing team bench, dubbed “The Wall” reaching 51 rows high on a steep slope. It will be akin to Fenway Park’s left-field “Wall,” and Duke University’s student section. Ballmer said the team will have a contingency plan in case of delays but was confident the organization will move in on time to allow customers to secure and watch games from “courtside cabanas” modeled after field-level suites in the NFL.

Fans will be able to make purchases from “smart” concession stands that will charge customers automatically without long checkout lines or a wallet, “technology willing,” said Gillian Zucker, business operations manager.

Five basketball courts will adorn the complex with two for community use.

“I feel a little bit like a kid on Christmas,” Ballmer said. “You see that big present sitting there—you know it’s not time to open it yet, so what do you start doing?  Well, I want to rip the paper; you look inside. The only problem we
have right now is, it’s three years before we get a chance to open the damn thing!”

Got to love the man. He’s real! 

Ballmer reiterated that he will contribute 80 million dollars toward affordable housing in the city. But you can never please everyone. Prior to the ceremony, roughly a dozen protesters appeared on Prairie Avenue displaying signs criticizing the looming construction and its potential impact on local residents.