In late January, Los Angeles Lakers big man Jordan Hill underwent season-ending hip surgery. This weakened an already struggling interior and led to L.A. losing seven of their first nine games without Hill.
To be clear, Hill will not be making his long-awaited return in the near future. Instead, it could be more than three months until the former Arizona Wildcat sees the court.
More specifically, June.
It's not over for sure for Jordan Hill (hip) this season, btw. If Lakers are still playing in June (!), @jordanchill43 might be there.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) February 24, 2013
For those wondering, June is the time when the NBA Finals are going to be played.
This is yet another piece of motivational information for a Lakers squad that has now won 11 out of their past 15 games. This stretch has them just one game below .500 and 2.5 behind the Houston Rockets for eighth in the Western Conference.
One can't help but imagine that winning a title for the late Dr. Jerry Buss is motivation enough.
Winning for Dr. Buss
Earlier this week, the NBA community suffered one of the most tragic losses in league history. This came as Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss passed away at the age of 80.
Since his passing, the Lakers have won three consecutive games.
Rarely do we see the correlation between death and sports, which is something all fans can approve of. Unfortunately, great men and women will pass on from time to time.
To draw a parallel, it appears as if Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are looking to follow in the footsteps of Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens ended up winning the Super Bowl.
This is what Lakers fans are hoping to see transpire with their beloved franchise. As Bryant and company lose their mentor, they are now in position to pay the ultimate tribute.
For the man who preached the "Championship or bust" mentality, winning a title would be a form of repayment for all Buss has done for the Lakers and the NBA. Unfortunately, nothing would be enough to truly pay our gratitude.
The legendary Dr. Buss lives on through his Lakers—Kobe and company knows what that means they must do.
Jordan Hill's Return
The Los Angeles Lakers are a team that has battled injuries from the opening tip. With that being known, the potential to see one of their key players return is one they have to be inspired by.
When you enter the season as one, you'll do anything to exit as the same.
Dwight Howard received offseason back surgery and is believed to be continuously battling those issues (via ESPN Los Angeles). To make matters worse, Howard has been battling shoulder issues as well (via ESPN Los Angeles).
Most recently, D-12 admitted that his conditioning "cost the Lakers a lot of games" (via ESPN Los Angeles).
Furthermore, Steve Nash suffered a small fracture in his left leg and missed more than 20 games (via The Orange County Register). If that's not enough, Pau Gasol has battled a wide array of injuries.
According to Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News, Gasol will be out until the postseason with a torn plantar fascia.
With the Lakers having Gasol's return to look forward to, they now have a target date. With Jordan Hill's comeback set for a later date, the same can be said.
The question is, will L.A. relay the motivation into success?