As the first decade of the new millennium nears its end and the Lamar Odom saga continues to linger on, I thought I would draw some parallels between the two most dominant sports franchises of the 2000s in their respective sports to explain why L.A. fans have nothing to worry about as long as Dr. Buss is behind the wheel.
First off, let me start by saying that as an avid Lakers fan, I would love to have Lamar Odom come back to the squad next year as one of the best sixth men in the league. With that being said, however, there is no doubt in my mind that the Lakers can win a championship again next year without him if he chooses not to come back.
And if you think, like many probably do, that I have lost my mind, let me share a quote with you, from a recent LA Times article (http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-odom-lakers-28-2009jul28,0,2985902.story), by the executive director of the Las Vegas Hilton's Race and Sports book, Jay Kornegay.
Kornegay says, and I quote, "Odom's a component, but he's not a star. As that team has already shown, if they lose someone, they'll find someone else." That is also why most sports books in Vegas, including Kornegay's, will not change the Lakers' odds to win it all again next year if Odom leaves.
What other sports franchise has dominated it's league this decade without letting it's players hold it hostage? That's right folks... the New England Patriots! What do the Patriots and Lakers have in common? Well, a lot of things... but the most important of them being strong, savvy, business-minded owners. Both Jerry Buss and Bob Kraft have been the main reason for their teams' success. They have showed time and time again that they understand how to run a successful business, from the top down.
Both have Hall of Fame or future Hall of Fame coaches in Phil Jackson and Bill Belichick. In addition, their coaches are extensions of them on the field or court in that their resume speaks for itself and demands respect from even the biggest stars, whose egos may sometimes need to be put in check for the greater good of the team.
Not many coaches can get superstars to buy into the team system... Phil and Bill have done it time and time again, with plenty of superstars that have come and gone during that time. Who else could handle the likes of Dennis Rodman, Ron Artest (well, not yet), Randy Moss and Corey Dillon... plenty of great coaches had tried in the past, but none had succeeded until those players landed with their current coach.
Another similarity is that both owners have built their team around one superstar and surrounded him with role players that compliment that player's strengths. With the Lakers, Buss has made it obvious that Kobe is pretty much the only untouchable player on the roster, even when that meant parting ways with league and finals MVP, and possibly MDE (Most Dominant Ever), Shaquille O'Neal, when the two superstars' relationship went sour. At the time, even I questioned this move and came up with the clever slogan, "The Buss can't run without Diesel!" After a couple of rebuilding years, Buss proved me wrong as Shaq was obviously showing signs of aging while Kobe just kept getting better.
In the case of the Patriots, Tom Brady is the untouchable and his O- and D-lines are the role players. All the other parts are pretty much interchangeable, and until the acquisition of Moss, Brady has pretty much done it with marginal talent on the offensive side of the ball. Just ask Super Bowl XXXIX MVP, Deion Branch, what Matt Hasselbeck has done for him since he left New England!
So although we may have to say goodbye to some beloved athletes from time to time, if you're living in Los Angeles or in the New England area, the only thing you have to worry about is who is going to pay for the parade!
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