L.A. Lakers and Miami Heat: A Tale of Two Cities

Buckus ToothnailContributor IIIMay 6, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes after a loose ball in front of Shawn Marion #0 of the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Their similarities are uncanny.

Both the No. 2 seed in their respective conferences.

Both led by superstar, Jordan-eque players.

Both facing the No. 3 seed in the second round of the playoffs.

Both having won the Finals with Shaq.

Both having been coached by Pat Riley to the NBA Championship.

Both in cities known for sunny weather, palm trees and hot women.

But aside from these striking similarities, there is nothing the same about the fate of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat.

The Lakers have now dropped two games at home in the second round of the playoffs and are on the way to being unceremoniously swept by a hated rival with an even more despised owner.

The Heat have now won two games at home in the second round of the playoffs and are on the way to relinquishing the Eastern Conference championship crown from the much-hated rival Boston Celtics.

While Lakers bandwagon fair-weather fans have been dissing the Heat all year, claiming their "own" (newly adopted) favorite team was going to win its third championship in a row, Dwyane Wade and his partners have been quietly doing what really matters in the NBA: winning.

So now, as the Lakers limp out of the second round like a ragbag collection of has-beens, carpet-baggers and never-was, the Heat are on the way to a momentous showdown with the "best" team in the league, the Chicago Bulls, that is if this "best" team can survive their own second-round troubles.

What happened?

For those true NBA fans that have been paying attention this season, the Lakers were never this season's champs, but rather closer to tomorrow's chumps.

The laziness and arrogance of their play have been stinking up the NBA all season.

Getting beat by teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, humiliated by hated long-time rivals the Celtics and outrun by geriatric teams like the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers truly played like the "Fakers."

Despite having the winningest coach in history, the Lakers were consistently bettered by the Heat, who have one of the most green and untested coaches in history, trying to manage a squad with two of the best players ever to play the game.

Talent-wise, the Lakers never had a chance.  Kobe, while being great, always had great teammates in those years he cruised to easy victories.  Never has he ever truly had to carry a team by himself like LeBron James did when he put the Cavaliers on his shoulders and carried them to the 2007 NBA Finals.

Never had Kobe had to win elimination games all by himself like Wade did in the 2006 finals being down 2-0 and losing by double digits in the fourth quarter of Game 3 at home.

No, Kobe always had guys like Robert Horry and Derek Fisher, guys that truly stepped up to the plate in clutch situations any time the team called for them.

Kobe?  Like in Game 1 against the Mavs, he throws away a possession with the Lakers up by one with the ball and only a handful of time remaining. 

Then he dribbles into his own teammates coming around a screen, losing the ball and the possession. 

And he clunks a wide-open three-pointer that could have won the crucial Game 1 at home, leading the Lakers onto their path of being down 2-0 in only the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Let it be said now: The Miami Heat will beat the Celtics, beat the Bulls and then beat the Mavs in a rematch of the 2006 finals—or the Thunder, or even, amazingly, the Grizzlies, the toughest opponent of all the teams left in this postseason.

As a Laker fan, I'd hate for this to happen.  But as an NBA fan and a student of the game, I know this will happen.

Bye bye, L.A.  It was fun while it latest. 

Hello, Miami.  As much as I love the town and hate the team, the future is so bright there, I gotta wear shades.