The Lakers were throttled once again at the hands of the mighty Boston Celtics. Tuesday night's game was a classic Boston throbbing of a Los Angeles basketball team on a world championship stage.
But the game could have been a very different story if Kobe had a legitimate center playing alongside him.
Foe the time being, Celtics fans can revel in their triumph. But next year, the Lakers may have a chance to redeem themselves.
Andrew Bynum, the Lakers' beloved young center, should be back at full strength next year, and he figures to keep improving. When he's back, we'll see who the actual best team is.
A 2009 title would erase memories of Tuesday night's painful loss. It would also establish the Laker franchise as the team of the decade. A 2009 championship would earn the club its sixth finals appearance of the new millennium and fourth title of the decade, the most among any team.
The Lakers were built for the long run. They have players who are relatively young, given their talent and experience. This team has a ton of potential.
If they focus on improving their defense over the summer, there's no reason the Lakers can't come back stronger and win the title next year.