The Los Angeles Lakers are arguably the greatest basketball club in the land; 16 championships, 31 conference titles, 23 division titles.
Plus a bunch of retired numbers honouring some of the best players to walk on a basketball court; Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neil to name a few, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Irvin ‘Magic’ Johnson followed in the footsteps of Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain to set this ball club up for super stardom. There is also a handy player who is currently a Laker by the name of Lebron James.
The Laker dynasties are one of the most recognisable in American sports. Their 2000-2002 three-peat the latest to grace basketball. They used to be frustratingly good, unstoppable, tough, brash but brave. You didn’t need to like them but you would have respected them. Winning is a part of their fabric, it once was in their DNA.
“The Lakers are the best franchise in the history of sports”- Los Angeles Clippers Coach, Doc Rivers.
The American sporting landscape means players and coaches are always moving pieces in the pursuit of the ultimate success. Roster stability is a rarity, and the Lakers are no exception. But when changes are made, immediate improvement is a must and the Lakers collectively share a weight of expectation. When they win it is expected and celebrated incredibly hard but Laker mediocrity is always fiercely scrutinised, as we tear them apart when they disappoint.
The Lakers have been merely a shadow of the team that they once were. Their demoralising finish to the 2018-19 season resulted in their six straight absence in the playoffs. Perhaps the retirement of Kobe Bryant was a sign into the immediate future for the franchise at the time as they have not finished any better than the 10th seed since the since the 2012-13 season.
The Lakers need to start winning again and start winning now, or else they will quickly go from the best to the most embarrassing team in American sports. Simply because they are the Los Angeles, we love talking about them when they are good and bad.
First of all, they fired their head coach, Luke Walton. The son of the famous, Bill Walton was originally a popular figure when he was hired to lead the Lakers in April of 2016. He was then fired by Magic Johnson and the back office after last season’s dismal campaign. They have now hired former Pacer and Orlando Magic coach, Frank Vogel. It would be a disaster if they missed the playoffs after sacking one coach and bringing in another. Hopefully Vogel can orchestrate the right line-up to contend with the best.
Another reason the Lakers need to cash in more wins than losses is because the King is ageing. LeBron will turn 35 in December and yes, he doesn’t look like retiring at the normal average NBA retirement age. He is too durable. But how long can he put together the remarkable game-dominating numbers?
They’ve also recruited perhaps the best big-man in the game in Anthony Davis. He alongside LeBron is a dangerous situation for the opposition. They will need to work out a gameplan that can complement both players, but essentially maximise Davis’s output, as he is probably the most prolific player in the NBA. The Lakers have also recruited the likes of reigning NBA champion, Danny Green, former All Star centre, Dwight Howard and respected veteran, Jarred Dudley.
Another golden opportunity will be in front Vogel and the Lakers with the Golden State Warriors predicted to drop slightly down the western conference standings. This is due losing for the year star shooting guard, Klay Thompson and a former MVP in Kevin Durant to free agency. The Warriors have also revamped their bench which resulted in the exits of reliable veterans, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguadola. Golden State will also need to take time to adjust with Steph Curry and D’Angelo Russel playing on the court at the same time, therefore if the Warriors waiver for a period of time, the Lakers can jump up the pacific division standings.
So lets be honest, love or hate them, we all know the NBA is a better place when the Lakers are up and running. And that notion applies for any of the other big four teams; Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. With all those aforementioned reasons, the Lakers should at least make the playoffs, but if they fall below the 500 percentile and miss out on playoffs for the seventh straight time, it will be a calamity.