I wonder what was going through Kobe Bryant's mind as he watched Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James come together in a collective effort aimed at forcing him to relinquish the throne many foolishly thought he lost last season.
Bryant, Bosh, Wade, and James could arguably be considered as four of the NBA's top five players, and now there is a possibility that Bryant may have to face those three together if he hopes to capture his sixth NBA title.
Friend and fellow columnist Harrison Moore recently wrote an article which posed the question whether or not James' main intentions in free agency were to act as a deterrent to the Lakers, and now it seems his question has been answered.
It's hard to recall the last time three of the game's top five players decided to pair their collective talents, and this historic occasion has taken the focus off the two-time defending champion Lakers and placed it squarely on the Miami Heat.
There is always pressure to succeed when you are in the limelight, and nowhere will that pressure be felt more than in Miami, where anything less than a Finals appearance in 2011 will be considered a failure.
Bryant and the Lakers find themselves in a curious position because even though there will be pressure on them to three-peat, it will be nothing like the trio in Miami will have to endure.
This could be beneficial to the Lakers in a variety of ways because although there are problems that need attention such as depth, their roster is in far better shape than Miami's right now.
For Bryant, this could be one of the last major challenges of his career, as he, James, and Wade are universally considered as the game's top players, and it could be perceived by Bryant as a direct shot at his legacy.
It's likely that Miami's move will strengthen Bryant's already steely resolve, and if he is able to return healthy from his injuries, we will probably witness one of the more determined versions of Bryant that we have seen in years.
The Lakers have remained mostly silent through this electric free agency period, and the formation of Miami's super team is not likely to raise any alarms out west. The only move Los Angeles has made so far was offering a four-year contract to Steve Blake which addresses depth at the point guard position, but another rumored target for the Lakers may sign with the Heat.
There is speculation that Mike Miller may join Wade, James, and Bosh, in Miami, and if this is true, then the already limited options for the cash-strapped Lakers grow even slimmer.
But hope remains, because the core of the Lakers' roster remains intact, and Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Ron Artest, and Andrew Bynum are still a pretty good starting point to begin a three-peat journey. In fact, many coaches and general managers around the NBA still recognize Los Angeles as the team to beat in 2011. And it's not because they won the last two NBA championships, but rather the chemistry they established while doing it.
Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry echoed that sentiment when he said the Heat will be a fun team to watch, but chemistry can be a tricky thing. And he had a bird's eye view of the Lakers' chemistry at it's finest.
Some observers will say Miami poses a credible threat to the Lakers' chances for a three-peat in June, but that in no way changes the goals of Bryant or the franchise.
These Lakers have already established the type of legacy the Miami Heat are trying to create, and regardless of what the perception may be, Los Angeles is a lot closer to a title in 2011 than Miami is.