Let me es-plain.
For the 2009-10 season, the Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the most disappointing and underachieving teams anyone has seen in a long time.
They are debate-ably the most talented team in the NBA considering their size, experience, youth, coaching staff, and Kobe Bryant. But they only managed to squeeze out of the Western Conference in first place with 57 wins and had the third-best record in the league.
Considering all they've been through this season, I say, not bad. And what I mean by that is injuries.
The Lakers were the most injured contending team in the league. There is no doubt about that.
If you look at just the starters, Ron Artest missed five games, Kobe Bryant missed nine games, and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum missed 17 games a piece.
Not to mention that Kobe Bryant played through his injuries for most of the season.
When you have so many guys missing so many games, it throws off your team chemistry. The coach is forced to adjust rotations. Players who usually don't play as much, or at all for that matter, start getting significant playing time.
A lot of things change when your missing your key players.
This is the part where your going to say, "So what? Every team has to deal with injuries."
So true, but how many teams can play through injuries the way the Lakers did?
I'll say it again, considering their injuries, winning 57 games and clinching the Western Conference for the third straight year is pretty damn impressive.
Yet, it wasn't good enough. They were criticized, doubted, laughed at, and some people went as far as saying that the Lakers were going to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Those people should be shunned from society.
Actually, they have just been shunned. I have shunned them.
Anyway, back to my analysis.
The fact remains, the Lakers are one of the most loved teams in all of sports, and where there is love, there is also hate.
People are tired of seeing the Lakers win championships, they are tired of seeing the same purple and gold jerseys beating their team.
And they are especially tired of Bryant. He is one of the most arrogant players in the league. Plus, when he plays basketball, he has a killer look on his face which doesn't make him likable to some people.
I get it, I really do.
But you have to realize, even if you don't genuinely hate the Lakers, you are being conditioned to hate them.
The media is making sure of that.
Let me just give you a quick example of how biased the media is.
It's safe to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers are the crown-favorites to win the championship this season. Everyone knows that.
In Game Two of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Cavaliers lost to the Celtics in a decisive 18-point victory.
Think about it. Just think about it.
What did you hear more about: Rajon Rondo's amazing performance or LeBron James's injured elbow?
Because James is one of the best in the league and as a reigning two-time MVP who everyone simply adores, he is barely criticized.
The media loves James so much that they make the excuses for him. They blame it on the elbow and show sympathy for him.
Which is fine, it is hard to play with an injured elbow, but lets look at another situation.
The Lakers were blown-out of Oklahoma City in Game Four of the first round.
Who took the heat for that game?
People talked about how old he's gotten, and how he's lost his touch. People don't even mention the fact that he's playing through injuries as well.
Even though the Lakers as a whole played terribly in that game, Bryant is being thrown under the bus and it happens all the time.
There is a definite double standard between Bryant and James, it is undeniable.
I'm not trying to argue who's better or who deserves what. James is a phenomenal talent, but there's a double standard.
To put it in simple terms, between James and Bryant, who do you think would be the superhero and villain in a movie?
But enough of this, lets look at the Lakers-Utah series.
In both games at the Staples Center, the Lakers came out dominating the Jazz only to lose their large lead in the second half of the game.
The reason for this is that the Jazz have speed and quickness off the bench, so when the Lakers rest their starters, the Jazz bench comes out and scraps around making the game interesting.
In general, the Jazz are very good at keeping themselves in games and giving themselves a chance to win which is what you'd expect from a Jerry Sloan coached team.
Also, the Lakers are known for losing big leads, so go figure.
Once the starters come back in, the Jazz stand no chance. They simply can't compete with the Lakers size which will costs them this series.
Andrei Kirilenko will return for Game Three, but in the end, it still won't matter. Kirilenko will help them with shooting, rebounding, and defense, but the Lakers are just more talented and stronger.
It's that simple.
That's going to be another no-contest victory.
The Suns are excellent at perimeter shooting and the Lakers are excellent at perimeter defense.
A match made in heaven? I think so.
The fact is that when the Lakers play their defense on the Suns, it's pretty much over for them.
Not to mention the overwhelming size the Lakers have over them.
If there is one thing the Suns have always had trouble with, it's size. They can't stop the larger big men in this league and nothing will change.
So after this series, the Lakers will be in their third straight NBA Finals.
Who are they going to play? That is the question.
Honestly, it's a toss up between Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando.
All three are very capable of taking each other out. There is no one team that is so overwhelmingly better than the other.
The advantage that the Lakers have is that they only have to go through one of these monsters to win the title which is more than doable.
The Lakers are still the champs. Until someone knocks them out, they are the champs—the team to beat.
You can love it or hate it.