Plans of dethroning the Lakers are well underway, and in less than 24 hours the first step will being. But before we start watching how next season will shape up for our back-to-back champs, let’s take a look at some of the highs and lows that brought the Lakers to one of the most epic NBA Finals in history and cement another Laker legacy:
• Jerry Buss has always been a businessman who knows his craft but never ever takes whatever or whoever makes his Lakers one of the most respected franchise in sports history. That includes sticking with the players who win him another championship. He may have tried to put on his poker face with Lamar Odom last sumer, but we all knew he would help Lamar win that poker game only because he hates fixing something that isn’t broken. However, Odom may have made Buss regret not sending him on a one-way bus fare to Miami by being too inconsistent in this year’s playoffs. Another thing about Buss: he demands the same generosity from the players he give charity to. The way Odom stunk it up in the post-season, he just might be the first victim of Buss’ budget plans for next season.
• Ron Artest‘s very direct approach of expressing his desire to join the Lakers after the team lost the Finals to the Boston Celtics in 2008 inspired Mitch Kupchak and Jerry to give him an opportunity to win his first ring. But neither two (or Artest) ever imagined the Lakers would rely on Ron to carry the team to their 16th NBA title.
That post-game interview with Ron Ron just perfectly caps this year for the Lakers. Disbelief followed by unadulterated exhuberance.
• The Lakers have always had that proverbial switch mentality. The problem is that “switch” started when guys like Shaquille O’Neal, Ron Harper, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Brian Shaw, Horace Grant, and AC Green were still featured at Staples Center. I’m not saying that this group of Lakers isn’t good enough to think that things will go their way if they just all decided to play basketball. But who are we kidding? This Laker team have way too many players that need motivation at times when there shouldn’t be any need for them to be motivated. That foolish reliance on something that ended in 2002 was replaced in the first round by something that’s been around since time began…survival instinct. The Lakers layers should really give each player for the Oklahoma City Thunder their miniature version of the Larry O’Brien trophy.
• Kobe Bryant has always been a warrior. But this past season tested his mettle by giving him more injuries to overcome. He eventually did. But not before hitting 6 game-winners at the buzzer and 2 game-winning misses that turned into 2 accidental “assists” to Pau Gasol and Artest in the playoffs.
• Speaking of Kobe. His basketball mileage went from being a side note to a major issue when Bryant is showed that he needs to hit that fall-away jumper or use that pump fake of his to score at times when we all yell at our TV screens for him to drive the ball into the teeth of the defense.
• The Lakers showed they can win without Kobe by stringing together 6 wins, including a rare victory in Portland. Yet, they still managed to lose to sub-par teams WITH Bryant.
• Derek Fisher isn’t nearly as old as everyone say he is.
• Andrew Bynum went from “we need to get this guy out of L.A.” to “we can’t let this guy out of L.A.” in just a matter of weeks.
• With just two clutch free-throws in Game 7 of the Finals, Sasha Vujacic showed what he learned over the years with the Lakers that Jordan Farmar never did. Being there when the team needs him.
• And finally…the Lakers are still the NBA World Champions!