In the Lakers latest attempt to win their 15th Championship, we’re starting to see a very familiar storyline.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A young fighter from out of nowhere challenges the defending Heavyweight World Champion and actually manages to take him the distance, but still loses.
In the rematch, he succeeds in taking the Championship for himself, but becomes complacent shortly afterward.
He loses his Championship to a meaner, more-focused opponent after failing to prepare for their bout. In order to redeem himself, he must regain the fire he once had during his days as a Champion.
Does that remind you of anything? It should.
The first three installments of the ‘Rocky’ franchise showcase what the Lakers have done, where they are, and how they can redeem themselves if they have the will to do so.
The “out of nowhere” status resembles the Lakers position in the Western Conference standings previous to the 2008 season. Mr. T plays the role of the Boston Celtics, and the three-peat Lakers of the earlier years in this decade provide Rocky’s lost days as a champion.
And in this case, “eye of the tiger” means consistency.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the Celtics won’t be around for them to take the title back from, but everything else is still place for a dramatic redemption. All they need now is to add permanency to their recent motivation.
When it comes to winning, impatience is a virtue and if the Lakers don’t win the Championship this year, Charles Barkley was correct in saying they’ll “be in trouble.”
Although the strong likelihood is that Bryant will retire a Laker, the chance that he won’t is still an unpleasantly lingering possibility.
Besides, who could anyone forget the offseason the Lakers suffered only half a decade ago?
Easily the worst in NBA history, L.A.’s 2004 offseason saw the departure of Hall of Fame shoe-ins Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Shaquille O’ Neal, and Phil Jackson.
Although another Championship loss isn’t likely to provide that level of catastrophic damage again, very little is safe on a NBA Finals-losing team in the long run.
Kobe Bryant will need to step up and play with a much greater sense of urgency for the rest of the playoffs if the rest of the Lakers are to follow suit.