Could you imagine the playoffs without the Lakers?
That would be like making a "Home Alone 3", but instead of Macauley Culkin playing the boy, they got that kid with the mushroom haircut from "Liar Liar."
Oh right, they did that already—and it sucked.
Realistically, it's not even about the Lakers prestigious history. It's not about all the success they've endured in the past, and the legendary names that are associated with the franchise. And it's not about the market they play in. The NBA would do just fine with Kevin Durant winning championships.
The NBA is better off with these Lakers as a powerhouse. The same Lakers that just dropped their head coach like a fantasy football running back with a torn ACL.
And yes, the same Lakers that just added Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to their roster as if they were side orders of fries and a shake at the diner.
Who wouldn't want to see this team battling the Thunder in the Western Conference finals or the Heat at the end of the rainbow?
The game just feels right with the Lakers contending.
I'm just picturing the NBA lottery with a Lakers representative sitting awkwardly next to Dan Gilbert's son and some contest winner from the Washington Wizards. It would be like the prom king being forced to sit with the "Mathletes" in the cafeteria.
And I don't know about you, but as a fan of the game (not the Lakers), I'm not ready for an irrelevant Kobe Bryant. There's not many people I'd rather see fight for anything than watch Kobe go for a ring. Now that his counterparts include Howard, Nash and D'Antoni, I wouldn't want to see them on any stage but the brightest.
Most of you reading this article probably don't remember the Lakers ever not being a powerhouse. I sure don't. And regardless of what they tell you about how the NBA isn't what it was, or how much the game has changed, I'm pretty content watching Kobe go head-to-head with Dirk, Tim and Kevin, year after year deep into the playoffs.
Despite a mediocre record and an early Steve Nash injury, the Lakers will eventually turn it around.
However, with the team getting older, the current window is closing fast.
Are Mike D'Antoni's fingers strong enough to hold it up for another year or two? Only time will tell. Knowing the media and today's game, he'll probably receive most of the credit and regain his status as an offensive guru, but that's a debate for another time.
There's one thing for sure, however, and that's that the NBA playoffs wouldn't be the same without Kobe and the Lakers.
That, and who wouldn't want to hear another Metta World Peace post-game championship interview.