17 Championships manifest the greatness of the Lake Show franchise.
And Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players of all time.
And…well that is all that we can really go by at this point, because the rest of the news isn’t the greatest.
If that’s the stuff you want to hear as a Lakers fan, I suggest you not read the rest. The truth may hurt, but realize they can do as they’ve done in their historic past, but they face an uphill battle.
From the Top Down
Jerry Buss has made many trades, bold and subtle. He has kept acquired the talent and composed contending personnel for championship runs every season. He was hospitalized, and his son is the new man in charge, Jim Buss. Jim is doing some different things. The front office has a new focus, and a different agenda.
No more Phil Jackson, one of the greatest coaches of all time.
Mike Brown. New head coach. new system. If preseason is any precursor, it’s going to take some time to get acquainted. If his past in Cleveland is any precursor, it’s going to take some time winning over a veteran team, and adapting to both sides of the ball after the departure of the great Phil Jackson.
Kobe Bryant is 33-years old and appeared to lose a step last season. Whether that is the case or not, he is not getting any younger and the amount of injuries increase. He may miss the beginning of the season with torn ligaments in his wrist. How will his knees hold up in a 66-game season, in 120 days?
Personally, I’m not worried about the Black Mamba. He takes care of his body and prepares himself mentally, physically, and he is someone I bet on 100 times out of 100. With that said, those questions are valid and apply to any athlete that has played 16 seasons in a professional sport. Peyton Manning is an example of an aging Hall of Famer that needs a younger and improved supporting cast.
Bryant wanted to be involved in the process of selecting the new coach. He wasn’t pleased with the addition of Mike Brown. Not the happiest guy in the world that Lamar Odom was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, the team that handled them last postseason. They did get a trade exception in return, but Bryant seems to be losing trust in the front office. (The business side of that deal, they saved $9 million and can use that trade exception in a trade, perhaps for Dwight Howard.)
Speaking of age and playing a lot of games in so little time. The Lakers don’t have much time to acclimate themselves and the same questions are popping up.
Andrew Bynum is a talented 7-footer with obvious potential. Unfortunately, he is beginning the season on the bench with an injury. This has become a reoccurring theme and he needs to break this pattern. Not many 7-footers overcome injuries for prolonged careers, but hopefully he can turn that around before it’s too late.
Pau Gasol has been a mainstay for this team. He is an all-star player. He isn’t the toughest guy in the world and with Bynum’s continuous health concerns, they are going to need to add some depth to the bench because they really don’t have one. Or, they need to get Superman in a Lakers uniform, the sooner, the better.
Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace, is older and has definitely lost a step. He is known as a defensive player, but will now be coming off the bench. Starting in his place is Matt Barnes. A journeyman player that uses his length and athleticism defensively. On offense, he hits an occasional shot on the perimeter but is mostly a slasher.
Derek Fisher rounds out the starting lineup. Last season, there were concerns of his age, speed, health, you name it. This year is no different, especially with his involvement in the NBA lockout process that took time away from him working out in preparation for the season. Again, 66 games in 120 days.
So, from the starting lineup alone, you can see the desperation from this storied Lakers franchise. You can’t ask players to get younger, quicker, tougher, and to stay healthy. With such little time, a new system, veteran players, a new coach, and virtually no bench whatsoever, those are the reasons I would bet against them from seriously contending for a championship this season. Desperate in a sense that, they need to make moves on their roster and do so quickly, whether it’s a blockbuster trade or a few tweaks here and there, but they need to do something.
There are some decent names on the bench, but again it will take more than this to compete. Jason Kapono is a spot up shooter, a perimeter specialist. Troy Murphy is a perimeter power forward. They have Josh McRoberts backing up the bigs. Backup Point Guard/Spot Starter is Steve Blake. Let’s just say this experiment hasn’t panned out the way they though, and he may lose his role to rookie Darius Morris.
I don’t know, I just don’t know about this Lakers team. It is too early to stick into anyone because the season hasn’t even started, but the concern level should be at an all-time high for Lakers fans. The urgency is greater than perceived, and it’s not like this team played well in the playoffs last year. They went 6 games against Chris Paul’s Hornets, without David West and not much on the floor. Maybe a little Trevor Ariza, I guess. Oh yeah, and they got swept by the Dallas Mavericks, who later won the NBA Championship.
It may be premature to crown the Clippers, but Lob City has definitely put themselves in the conversation, the hype, and they are a young team put together to make a run. They could use an addition or 2 to become contenders on paper, but we saw what CP3 did with little help for many years. The Lakers have been there and done that, but the Clippers are tired of being that other team and you know what, they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and that’s putting themselves on the map…