This is not an overreaction to the Lakers losing two games in Oklahoma to a team that is nowhere close in comparison to the Phil Jackson’s all star cast in experience or even in talent.
Everyone seems to be comparing the Lakers crisis in Oklahoma to last year’s situations against an inexperience and shorthanded Houston Rocket squad. But I tell you this is not the same in any stretch of the imagination.
Finally back in DC and went to my favorite Barber shop to see all the guys giving me a hard time on the AroDrive.com page on facebook with regards what they call “my Kobe bias”- all because of my article Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James: Is Bryant Better Overall? – Barber-Shop Conversations where I emphasized the difference between LeBron and Kobe and how much more Bryant’s talent was refined at this point in time and I got blasted from all angles even with all the legitimate points I made.
Needless to say almost everyone I know believe LeBron James is the best basketball player in the NBA. Read the article Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James: Is Bryant Better Overall? – Barber-Shop Conversations for yourself and tell me what you think.
That said, I walked into a mob of Kobe and Lakers haters at the shop and they couldn’t wait to gloat, they believe the era of Kobe is over and a new generation is born.
So let’s examine the points against the Lakers and their goal to repeat as champions.
In two previous seasons the Lakers have always played their best basketball at the end of the regular season and roar into the playoffs.
The Lakers might not have played perfect basketball in the past but Kobe had always had the Midas touch even in poor shooting nights. But for some reason-call it injuries or age he has was unable to deliver in those two loses to Oklahoma and no one else on the squad seem to be able to step up to the plate and help out.
Kobe had been carry this team all season long and it’s continuing again in the playoffs. In game two of the first round playoffs series against the Oklahoma Thunder, no one on the Lakers team was willing to take a shot and the best closer in the game essentially grabbed the ball and said “stop me”, scoring 15 fourth-quarter points, including six consecutive after the Lakers fell behind.
That has become the mantra of this Lakers team; Derek Fisher just looks tired, Bynum can’t stay healthy, Artest can’t seem to pick up the triangle offense, Lamar and Gasol though solid on some nights are still performing disappearing acts most nights.
The Lakers bench one of the the main reason they won last year-seems to be more than content with the ring they already won. This team has become so dependent on Kobe that Phil Jackson played the 14 year veteran an average of 40 minutes a game this season.
The Lakers performances the last month of the regular season and through the first round of the playoffs has been more unsightly than inspirational.
They have blown early leads, been out rebounded, out hustled and in most cases simply manhandled by opponents and after a long season Kobe is beginning to show signs of exhaustion.
These signs have been more evident in the playoffs with Kobe unable to find he’s shots and have even missed free throws when he gets to the line which has been seldom.
Kobe no doubt is hurt and thus not driving hard to the basket, so he has to live and die by the jump shot. This means Kobe will have to have a good shooting night every night if he hopes to win a series against better opponents in the West.
With all the above points, I guess I can see why everyone will think the Lakers are in crisis and will not repeat as Champions.
But, everyone has forgotten that this is the NBA, the most predictable of the four major sports in America.
History always repeats itself and in this case history says that, by virtue of the Lakers winning their first two games to start the series — Phil Jackson’s teams are 44-1 when they begin a postseason series with a win.
And, experience will always beat talent, hence pedigree says that, by virtue of the championship rings that litter their starting lineup — 10 for the Lakers and zero for the Thunder and Jazz — they will win this series.
But I guess the outcome of the Lakers Semi Final series is not what’s in question here.
The West might be filled with very solid teams but most lack the needed playoffs experience it will take to beat a Phil Jackson coached team.
All the so called experts said the Dallas Maverick were Lakers true threat. Like I’ve said a thousand times before, as long as Dirk Nowitzki is the center piece of that squad they will never be a threat to anyone and San Antoniomade the point to everyone again in their first round series by not double teaming the perennial all star and formal league MVP and the results? Well, you tell me.
San Antonio by virtue of the talent and experience on the team are the Lakers true threat if they ever meet. The other true contender is the Phoenix Suns. Steve Nash who in the article The NBA’s Best Players 2009-2010 was ranked number two by the A-List team and deservingly so, is playing at a different level, no matter which players are removed or added to this team the Phoenix Suns never miss a beat.
The Suns have the personal to match up well against the Lakers and have the experience needed too.
There is no other squad in the west that can beat the Lakers four times in a seven game series, so with all the crisis that seem to be plaguing Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, I still see them playing basketball in June.
Will they win a championship this year? That depends on the NBA Finals opponents from the Eaast.
Read: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers a runaway Freight Train from the east.