Friday, March 14, 2008

Return to Glory?

With a long and storied history, it’s no wonder Los Angeles Lakers fans become agitated when they haven't had a championship in a few seasons. Some die-hards remember the back-to-back championships in 1987 and 1988 with the near-three-peat in the following season. Many can still taste the excitement of the three-peat that ended in the 2001-2002 season. Since then, there have been some near-misses that resulted in conference titles but no big prize. The beginning of this season looked like there would be disappointment again…and then…

It all clicked with the arrival of Pau Gasol. While the sports journalists and locals weren't totally convinced, there were those that believed. His arrival turned out to be somewhat of a turning point and the team became unstoppable. With a two week long road trip in which they won almost every game, there was a new energy around the squad. The highlights were exceptional, with Harlem Globetrotter-like plays to score. Los Angeles had their gem back…

Hope is back in the City of Angels. No one is complaining about their salary or asking for a trade. The team is in sync and appears to be on the road to a championship. Daniel Sagal of looks at the Lakers' hopes this way:

The arrival of Pau Gasol has made a severe impact in team chemistry and the overall energy of the squad. However, the team's success goes back a few months before the now infamous trade. When the season started, the media was following the actions of the franchise very closely waiting to hear news break of Kobe Bryant being traded. The Lakers though had their own agenda.

Mitch Kupchak waited out the demands of Kobe Bryant, made a minor trade with Orlando by sending Maurice Evans and Brian Cook for high flier Trevor Ariza, and let Phil Jackson and the coaching staff (including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) go to work with the youngsters. The addition of Derek Fisher has been pivotal as well. The veteran presence among all the young 2nd, 3rd and 4th year players has been vital to the team's success.

Simply put, the Lakers have managed to gel at the perfect time. The growth of Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf, and Sasha Vujacic; the leadership of Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom; and finally the addition of Pau Gasol have filled the final pieces of the puzzle. An NBA starting line-up has five spots, and each spot is extremely important for different purposes. The Lakers, more specifically, the previously hated and now loved Mitch Kupchak, have found a way to fill each spot with a great starter, and a solid role player.

The remainder of the 07-08 season will be exciting and the Lakers will have a great chance to make some noise. The men wearing the purple and gold will fight every night during the playoffs and will make it deep into the bracket. The beauty of this team however lies not in the chance that it has to succeed this year, but the way that it has been built to stay competitive for years to come.

If for some reason Kobe can't lead this team to the Promised Land this year, he has another chance next year, the year after that, and probably the year after that. The team is built to go beyond the three-peat of the Lakers in the beginning of this decade. Campaign Lakers begins now and ends???

I’d like to thank Daniel Sagal for so graciously contributing to this post today. Be sure to check out his blog LABallTalk for all of your Los Angeles Lakers coverage. Look for more interesting collaborations with him and other independent bloggers right here in the future (next up – the NHL with Casey Shea of Bringing Hockey Back and! Don’t be shy; drop me a line if you are interested in a joint effort as well.

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