The Lakers of the 2000's and possibly 2010's have a long way to go to match the Bulls of the 90's. Phil Jackson has hinted that his time is short in the NBA as a coach, and the team still has several more championships to win to match the prowess of the Bulls.
That said, the key elements still remain for the Lakers in the formula proved so successful by Jordan and Rodman.
Without saying Kobe Bryant's game is the same as Jordan's, because quite frankly, it's not even close, Bryant is the leader of this team just as Jordan was for the Bulls.
Kobe is a scorer, a player who possesses legendary abilities above and beyond the talent level of those around him. After Bryant's career is over, he will be looked upon as Jordan-like for those reasons, despite differences in personality and style of play.
Like Steve Kerr of the Bulls, the Lakers have Derek Fisher, a veteran guard with the ability to distribute the ball to teammates and occasionally contribute in the points column. Fisher's ability to run the floor and participate in a fast-paced offense parallels Kerr for the Bulls.
Lamar Odom may not fit perfectly in to the mold of Scottie Pippen. His scoring numbers are lower but his rebound numbers are higher. Odom doesn't match Pippen on some levels, but he actually does on several.
Odom provides support to Kobe Bryant with the ability to take the ball and score when Kobe gets in trouble. Lamar's ability to get to the basket for a potential rebound provides an extra hands to give the Lakers a second chance on the scoring side of the floor. Pippen was able to do this very well for the Bulls.
Where scoring is lacking for Odom versus Pippen, the slack is made up by Pau Gasol. With Tony Kukoc as a base, Gasol adds assists, and recently, physical toughness to the formula.
Finally, the similarities of Artest and Rodman are undeniable. Not because of rebound numbers (Rodman wins head-to-head easily), and not because of scoring numbers (Artest outscores Rodman head-to-head if he makes more than one basket a game), but because of attitude and style of play.
Like Rodman, Artest makes players around him hate him. He can change the momentum of a game by taking an opposing player out of the game. Artest's main focus used to be Kobe Bryant, but since joining the Purple and Gold, he seems to have acquired a new target: Paul Pierce.
Artest has found the star for the Celtics whose head he is able to climb inside of and change his play. Pierce has been, for the most part, a non-contributor thus far in the 2010 Finals, and everywhere he tries to run, Artest is there, tangled up with him and taking him to the floor.
The main difference between Rodman and Artest is where they focus their negative energy. As Rodman seemed to have a foe against every team, Artest seems to focus on one player, and not let up until that player is at their breaking point.
Once the era of Lakers success enters remission, a frenzy of analytical analysis will ensue. Mark my words: The comparison in this article will be done over hundreds of times more. Phil Jackson will owe a large portion of his success to this formula, and it will be copied by other teams for years to come.