When Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers walked off the Staples Center floor on Sunday afternoon, the boys in purple and gold looked rather dejected. To the casual eye, perhaps that dejection would appear to be as a result of a lackluster game against the San Antonio Spurs, who beat the Lakers, 100-81, in a potential playoff preview.

However, to Jerry Buss’ eye, perhaps the dejection roots from a deeper source – complacency, perhaps even disappointment. During a weekend that the Lakers could have delivered the regular season Western Conference championship to symbolically commemorate significant off-court happenings within the franchise, the current lot of purple-and-golders failed to come through.

Indeed, anything other than a victory against the hated Spurs last Sunday is inexcusable. The Lakers should be more than dejected from the loss – they should be ashamed.

Consider the context: Two elements that helped define who they are to the current generation of basketball fans in Los Angeles were rewarded for their efforts over the weekend. Bryant, who is completing his 14th season as a Laker, announced last Friday he signed a three-year extension to keep him in the purple-and-gold through 2014. Two days later, Dr. Buss was reportedly elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Two men who have collectively helped deliver the City of Angeles nine league championships since Kobe’s first year on Earth were properly rewarded for their respective contributions off the court last weekend, and the timing could not have been better on the court. Beat the Spurs; secure the best record in the West.

Two on-court acts that would have paid proper homage to a city and a franchise in light of what two men have done to make the Lakers what they are today. How fitting it would have been for this year’s version of the Lakers to honor their tradition of winning by securing the top playoff spot in the West against their chief conference rival in the post-Showtime era.

Even beyond Bryant’s extension signing, claiming the Western Conference regular season title just hours before the announcement of Dr. Buss’ official invitation to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is the least the Lakers could have done for the man who made the team what it is today. After all, Dr. Buss is and always has been committed to winning. Heck, the only reason Bryant even had an opportunity to spend at least 18 years donning a Laker jersey is because of that commitment to victory at (almost) any cost.

Of course, Dr. Buss did not stamp his ticket to the Hall of Fame because he threw an extra $90 million into Bryant’s bank account. Instead, Bryant’s extension is just the latest in a series of successful actions and events spearheaded by the good doctor himself.

It all started in 1979, when Dr. Buss made headlines with what was then the largest transaction in sports history by spending about $67.5 million to purchase the Lakers, the Los Angeles Kings, the Forum and a 13,000-acre Kern County ranch. Since then, the Lakers (now the only property from that transaction he owns) have gone to the NBA Finals 15 times, winning nine championships. Oh, the Lakers have also earned 15 conference titles, 16 division crowns and six regular season Most Valuable Player trophies since Dr. Buss took over.

With all that Dr. Buss has done for the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles, the least his boys could have done on Sunday was to deliver a third straight regular season conference title in his honor. Sure, the Lakers do not celebrate regular season conference championships, but in this one instance, clinching the West’s best record would have been perfectly symbolic for Dr. Buss’ sake.

Yes, the players should have been dejected as they walked off the floor on Sunday. Then again, all will be forgiven if the Lakers win a league title in a couple of months.