How the Los Angeles Lakers Became the Best Team in the NBA

DannyBoy SportsTalkCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers 110, Boston Celtics 109, (OT).


That is the stat that matters.


Maybe the 17-for-29 showing from the charity stripe isn’t a flattering percentage, but nonetheless, the Lakers still came out on top.


You are probably thinking, “So what? They barely beat the Celtics in OT.”


And you are right.


But one can never underestimate the power of a victory over a rival.


A victory over an opponent with the best record in the NBA is a huge moral boost. When you combine that with the win coming against your most storied enemy in a playoff type atmosphere, the rest of the league can only fear what is to come.


You see, the Celtics are the most hated rival of the Lakers. This war has raged since 1959, with no end in the foreseeable future. And now, the Lakers have defeated them twice in the regular season, earning a much deserved swagger heading into the All-Star break.


If there is one thing that people are underestimating, it is the loss of Andrew “Baby Shaq” Bynum, the Lakers' budding superstar. It was at this time last year that the Lakers lost Bynum and managed to steal Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies, setting the stage for a magnificent run into the finals.


Is another blockbuster trade on the horizon? According to Mitch Kupchak, the answer will not be coming from another team.


But isn’t that the standard answer from general managers around the league?


Phil Jackson, ever the Zen Master, left the door to that idea cracked open.


“We'll talk about it. We'll try to improve the club if there's a necessary thing to do. That's what you have to do in this business.”


Rumblings around the league have linked the Lakers to more than a few big men, most notably the Raptors' Jermaine O’Neal (again?) and Brad Miller of the Sacramento Kings.


Miller would make the most sense both because of experience and luxury tax considerations. With the Lakers going sour on Vladamir Radmanovic and Chris Mihm not able to break the rotation, swapping those two and a second rounder for Miller may benefit both teams.


Look for Kupchak to turn over every rock looking for a presence in the middle.


As for the second half, only time will tell.


But one thing is for sure. A confident team is a dangerous team.


Look out, NBA.


The Lakers are now, officially, the best team in the league.