Within the past year, the Lakers have once again re-established themselves as the dominant team in the Western Conference.
Even more so has been the key roles that have been taken on by the big men of the Lakers organization. Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and even the bench play of Chris Mhim and DJ Mbenga can be seen as a return to what all the great Lakers dynasties have had.
An offense with a dominant center at its core.
Think about all of the notable Laker big men who have led the team to dominance. Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Wilt Chamberlin, and now Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Each of these players can be attributed to a time in Lakers history when they were unstoppable around the boards. The defense was physical and the play in the paint was unmatched.
Yep, Los Angeles basketball is back!
But as we bask in the best winning percentage in the NBA, who do we have to thank? A lot of people can be looked towards.
Certainly, Mitch Kupchak for his ability to build the team, Dr. Bus for providing a solid base, Phil Jackson and his staff for their coaching abilities, and also Kareem for coming back as a special assistant coach.
But, I'd like to thank someone else if I may, someone who a lot of us, including myself, in LA often hung their head in terror was he entered the court. I'd like to thank...drum roll please...
That's right, the guy who Jordan bet on to be the starting center of the Wizards organization, who would only alienate his team and the city.
The guy who came out to LA and basically proved that it was easy to waste 10 million dollars by simply signing a piece of paper. The guy who was then traded and you could hear the city of Angels cheering if you walked outside as the press release was announced.
Yes, I want to thank that guy, Kwame Brown!
His 10 million was the reason that Los Angeles was able to acquire Pau Gasol. Without Pau, this team would not be enjoying the same success as it does now. Kwame, I want to personally thank you for that.
And you know what?
Why stop there?
I want to thank you for lacking the ability to play well at the center position and allowing Bynum the chance to start a year ago and really become the powerful player he is today.
I want to thank you for helping the city of Los Angeles to unite around a common thread, hoping that you wouldn't be in the starting lineup. But most importantly, for you playing perhaps the greatest role of your career, that of a placeholder in the grand checkbook that is the salary cap.
We couldn't have done it without you!
So, when you think back and try to place your finger on when the Lakers really turned it around, don't think about when Kobe started playing more team-oriented basketball. Or when Andrew flipped the switch and started playing like a possible all-star. Don't think about Pau's first game, or how Lamar Odom changed up his play when he was no longer the second option. These moments do not mark the turn around for the LA Lakers.
Nope, it was the big trade of old "cement hands" himself.
Thank you Kwame, you will never be forgotten as being among some of the most important centers in the storied history of the Lakers franchise.