If you believe that, “Los Angeles Lakers represent all that is evil in the world">The Los Angeles Lakers represent all that is evil in the world,” well, get ready for evil to reign supreme yet again. This Laker team is going to repeat, and they are going to make it look easy.
I would however first like to address the notion that they are evil, or are somehow cheating. The NBA has a salary cap, so comparisons to the Yankees are down right ridiculous. They made a draft day trade for Kobe Bryant, who at that point was an unproven 17 year old kid. Andrew Bynum was passed on by 9 other teams before the Lakers made him the youngest player ever drafted into The Association. The Gasol trade, widely condemned by rival GM’s, was an affirmation that the Lakers are incredibly shrewd, not sinister. Further, that trade demonstrates the wide gulf between the savvy Lakers management, and teams that perpetually struggle, like The Grizzlies.
Laker hatred exists because they are great, not because they cheat. It’s the same reason women are jealous of other beautiful women, or why men hate guys with nicer cars and houses than they have. The only thing the Lakers are doing wrong is beating the pants off of your favorite team.
Now to the real point, why this Laker team is going to dominate all season long, and make the NBA playoffs look like the Globetrotters versus The Generals.
It all starts with Kobe. He may not be the best player in the league, but if he’s not he is the second best. He still dominates, is lethal at the end of games, and his burden will be less than ever this year with the maturation of his young teammates, and the addition of mercurial forward Ron Artest.
Second, Pau Gasol proved his worth in last year’s playoffs emerging as a star in big moments. His skill set is nearly unmatched by any other 7 footer in the game. There is no better passer at Gasol’s size in the league. His post moves are as brilliant and limitless as good Scorsese films, and his defense and strength are improving. Not to mention the fact that winning a championship does great things for a player’s confidence. Gasol is now firmly a top 15 player in the league, King James doesn’t have a teammate in the top 25.
The most controversial move of The Lakers’ offseason is surely the addition of Artest. Yes he is strange, moody, and perhaps dangerous. All that said he is no Dennis Rodman, and Phil Jackson got the most out of him for three full years. Also, winning has a way of putting a stop to the outbursts of malcontents. Plenty of winning will be occurring in Lakerland, so Artest will be happy, and producing at a maximum level.
Bryant, Gasol, and Artest give the Lakers a big three that absolutely no team can match. All three are in their absolute primes, and have each been all-stars multiple times. Kobe could sit out half the games and this team would still be successful, you can’t say that about King James and the Cavs.
In addition Lamar Odom re-signed, giving the Lakers a great three man rotation in the post with Odom, Gasol, and Bynum. They have more length than any other team; all those guys can pass, and have now been playing together for a long time.
Finally Bynum and the rest of the supporting cast will be given a chance to shine in support of the big three. Many have prematurely denounced Bynum because of his playoff performance last year. If he is healthy (and I realize that is a large if) he can be dominant, a top 3 center in the league. In the past two years the entire month before Bynum was injured he averaged 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. That is a sample of what this kid (he will turn 22 on the season opener) can do when fully healthy and comfortable in his role.
So let’s see, that means the Lakers have one of the two best players in the game, two all stars to complement him, an incredibly versatile and talented 6th man, and a potentially dominant 7 foot center who is just barely of drinking age. Not to mention dependable and steady point guard Derek Fisher. What does that leave out, ah yes, the bench.
Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Luke Walton, and Lamar Odom represent one of the better second units in the league. They are athletic, young, quick, and have all been in Phil Jackson’s system for a while now.
The Spurs added a very good player in Richard Jefferson, but the Spurs were old two years ago when LA dispatched them in the conference finals 4-1. Since then the Spurs have only gotten older, while LA remains one of the youngest teams in the League, and the addition of Artest more than sets off Richard Jefferson. Who knows if Duncan and Ginobli can play full seasons either.
The Celtics have a very good deep team that may have a mental edge on the Lakers, but father time seems to be catching up to them as well. Garnett has a suspect knee, Ray Allen is not close to the player he once was, and Paul Pierce will be 32 by the time the season starts. This big three can soon be called the big AARP.
The Magic could not dethrone the Lakers last year, and did not get considerably better swapping two players (Turkgolu for Carter) that are relatively equal in caliber. There is no reason to think The Magic will take a big step forward.
And now to the big enchilada, the team everyone thinks can run with the Lakers, The Cleveland Cavaliers. Lebron is great, but Kobe essentially sets him off. If those two cancel each other out what are you left with? The Lakers boast Artest, Gasol, Bynum, Odom, and a good Bench. The Cavs have The Big Crypt Keeper Shaquille O’Neal, Mo Williams, plus an amalgamation of average to below average supporting players. The only way the Cavs can beat the Lakers is if Delonte West brings his guitar case to the finals. Also the Lakers now have two guys (Kobe and Artest) that can physically matchup with Lebron.
So you see all you Laker haters, resistance is futile. They have the best players, the best management, and oh yeah did I mention their coach has won just a few championships?
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