Los Angeles Lakers Acquisitions: Why LeBron James and NBA Fans Should Celebrate
None of these are legitimate arguments right now, no matter what two passionate fans a few beers in would tell you.
But by the end of next season? That's a different story entirely.
I hate to say "in all likelihood," because there are eight or so other good teams in the NBA—so much for parity, but I digress.
In all likelihood (considering ESPN's report of Dwight Howard going to the Lakers), the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat will be playing for an NBA championship next summer. Only the basketball gods can stop it from happening if they decide to bestow any injuries. Or Kevin Durant.
Thus, there is a very good chance either Kobe Bryant or LeBron James add another ring to their collections next summer.
With six rings, the Kobe vs. Jordan argument would become more substantial. Personally, I don't think it's even close to a discussion, Jordan is leagues above Kobe. Still, I wouldn't blame someone who argues Kobe.
The more intriguing storyline would be LeBron James winning his second NBA title, especially against this star-studded Lakers super team.
I was always of the opinion that six rings for LeBron's legacy wouldn't mean as much as six rings for Jordan's because he artificially made the Miami Heat the clear favorites by leaving Cleveland. I never thought that the Heat's Big Three steamrolling the league would have as much historical significance.
I could be wrong.
My argument already took a huge hit this summer with the games LeBron registered in the 2012 playoffs: 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists against the Pacers, 45 points (including 19 for 26 from the field) and 15 rebounds in a do-or-die Game 6 against the Celtics, and a triple-double to take home the NBA title against the Thunder.
Like Jordan, LeBron is the true alpha dog and Dwyane Wade as the true No. 2 is Pippen. With the emergence of Kevin Durant and the Thunder's own Big Three, I have thrown my previous views out the window.
Now, with the formation of this Lakers team—a team that was also forged in free agency—LeBron has an even bigger chance to strengthen his legacy and those Michael Jordan comparisons.
As a fan of the game of basketball, I honestly can't think of a better scenario than LeBron James against the Lakers in next year's finals.
It could be argued that the Lakers have the advantage at every position except the unknown-place-that-LeBron-plays position, unless we see a much more rejuvenated Dwyane Wade in the playoffs against an older Kobe.
Basketball fans: I want you to picture the following scenario.
First, the Lakers finish the regular season with some ridiculous record—say, 67-15—and head into the playoffs as the talk of the NBA. The Heat coast in the regular season and also finish with a crazy-good record.
Meanwhile, the Lakers cruise to the finals, save for a five or six-game series against the Thunder or Spurs.
Finally, we enter the 2013 NBA Finals with the Heat as overwhelming underdogs.
The only image I can picture in my head right now is LeBron dribbling at the top of the key, against the vaunted defense of Metta World Peace and facing down a core of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol all packed in the paint.
Typing that sentence doesn't even feel like real life. It's the same feeling I got when the Heat first came together. Now, one of the best point guards and one of the top-10 best players ever are playing with the best current center (by a wide margin), and Pau Gasol, whatever Pau Gasol is—which is still a great basketball player.
Never did we think that the Heat could become potential underdogs at any point during the Big Three Era when we lashed out at LeBron James for "cheating," "choking" and "betraying."
Yet, here we are. The Lakers have a Big Four whose styles seem to perfectly complement each other.
What they don't have is the best basketball player in the world, who now, unexpectedly, has a chance to play an underdog of sorts.
I'm not saying that the Lakers are the favorites right now, because they're not, but they easily could be by the end of the season if they gain the chemistry that fans and analysts expect them to.
Will the Lakers become the new villains of the NBA with all of the hatred directed towards Kobe and Dwight? I'm not so sure. The combination of the incredibly likeable Steve Nash and the team's entertainment value may never allow that to happen.
What I do know is that I will no longer be rooting against LeBron James. Not because I agree with "The Decision," but because I want to see the best games that I can possibly see.
And if I want to see the best games possible, I really can't think of a more compelling story than LeBron slashing through all of the big names on that mammoth Lakers team and putting up 40 points per night to single-handedly beat them in a seven-game NBA Finals.
After watching him in this year's NBA Finals and the Olympic Games, it absolutely can't be ruled out.
The bottom line is that Mitch Kupchak has given LeBron an opportunity to bolster his legacy by an amount that was previously not possible. Sure, it's going to be a lot harder to actually win the finals now, but the win would have a lot more impact on his legacy.
If LeBron were to capitalize on that chance, I know I wouldn't be dismissing any "Jordan or LeBron" debates at the bar, no matter how many rings he ends up with.
Nick Pournaras is a Senior at Penn State University.
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