Lakers Must Seize the Opportunity: There Can Be Only One
As a city known best for its stars, Los Angeles gets to revel in its own vanity once again as the Lakers embark on yet another Finals journey which most likely will conclude with another championship.
Personally, as a Bulls fan living in the City of Angels (or is that Demons?), the one thing I will enjoy once the inevitable happens is the Laker Day parade. If you're familiar with the caliber of women that reside in L.A., then you'll know what I mean.
But putting aside the glitz and glamour that the prominent local team attracts, I have to remain focused as a basketball fan and ask myself: "Is this Kobe and the Lakers' last chance at a championship?"
Although we're coming up on Game Two following a dominant Game One performance, I'm starting to think about the upcoming season, which is likely to feature upstart teams such as Cleveland, Orlando, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, etc. And the fact of the matter is, since 2002, no team has been truly dominant (able to win back-to-back titles).
The list of champions includes San Antonio, Detroit, Miami, and Boston. Where are the dynasties that we coveted in the '80s and '90s? Shouldn't they be cropping up in this new era of teams and talent as deep as ever?
So far this playoffs has give us more classic matchups than I care to mention. This postseason has showcased what's to come, as the young teams gained experience and soon will have a chance to become elite in the next season or two.
San Antonio has gotten old, Phoenix has seen better days, Boston has about two seasons left to get to another ring, Detroit is rebuilding, and all the while their counterparts are younger and getting better year after year.
So where does al this turmoil put the Lakers in this lottery of championships to come?
There's no denying the talent L.A. possesses:Trevor Ariza is becoming a legit second or third option and Pau Gasol is easily a top-five big man in the league. Lamar Odom has his moments, and without the pressure of being relied on every game, he could be an even more important piece. Andrew Bynum, although still green, can only get better with the experience he'll gain going forward in his young career.
Then there's the Black Mamba, Jordan-esque in his play and intensity; but for all of his talents, beating Father Time isn't one of them. He'll stay dominant up until is day of retirement, but can his team keep up with the Portlands of the league in the coming seasons? How will the offseason affect the Lake Show, considering Odom and Ariza are to become free agents?
Kobe's making a fortune, so is Gasol, as well as Odom, but can the Lakers afford to depart with any of their key starters in order for this roller-coaster ride of success to continue?
A lot of questions will need to be addressed this summer and the next as the league gets younger, better, and more experienced. Championships aren't guaranteed nowadays, so this Lakers team should seize the moment. There are several factors that could keep them away from the Finals in the next few seasons.
In a city where most people live in the moment and are only given one shot at success, it's only fitting that the (real) hometown team shares the experience of the fans who cheer them when they win and dismiss them when they don't.
When I'm at the Lakers' parade this June, I'll have two things on my mind:
"Cheer now, Angelinos, this maybe the last one for another seven years,"
and "I wonder if she's single."
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