Despite the euphoria and anticipation that surrounds the emergence of the big triumvirate in South Beach and in spite the fact that Las Vegas odds makers show clear cut figures that the Miami Heat Franchise led by two-time MVP LeBron James and his fellow Olympians Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, is an 8-5 favorite to win the prestigious Larry O’Brien trophy, the real beast still resides in the West, calm and collected as always.
Having withstood the test of time and showing tremendous grit and determination during the last three years – two of which resulted into a festive Hollywood parade while the other one was a hard-fought title clash against the mighty Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers remain the team to beat come the 2010-2011 NBA season.
Some might argue that Kobe Bryant has been aging drastically during the past few years and that his hops and speed are at an all-time low but given the craftiness of the arguably best basketball player to have ever played in basketball’s grandest stage known as the NBA, he will always find ways to contribute for Los Angeles’ cause.
Bryant may not be the statistical monster that is James or that was Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson but his sheer to win at all cost is an absolute beauty to behold. Bryant is one of the hardest working and smartest player ever of the James Naismith-created sport.
Combined hard work with smart work – what will you get? A prototype basketball machine committed to nothing but winning. Enter Bryant.
Apart from Bryant’s winning desire, the Lakers also have a formidable lineup to match up against either Miami or Boston. The length of their front line composed of Spanish sensation Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom proves to be another huge part in the Lakers’ recent success.
They have the size to match up against say, their long-time nemesis Boston which are now loaded with bigs with the addition of Jermaine O’Neal and entertainer and highly regarded journeyman Shaquille O’Neal.
Gasol is the best offensive center we have today minus Yao Ming while Bynum can be a dominant force inside the paint when utilize effectively. On the other hand, Odom’s versatility and effectiveness to play offense either facing the basket or playing post-up is a match up problem for any NBA team.
The Lakers also recently signed point guard Steve Blake in an effort to toughen up their bench which was vulnerable during some stretches last season. Blake is a great spot-up shooter and playmaker although there may be questions as to his composure come playoff basketball.
The key transactions for the Lakers however were not the acquisition of a new player. Nevertheless, it was about keeping the team intact. The re-signing of Fisher and the return option of multi-titled coach Phil Jackson were big for the city of angels.
Fisher is a well-rounded veteran that played a crucial role in all of thee Lakers five championship during the last decade. He was part of the Lakers’ three-peat during the early 2000’s and now he’s hoping for another one.
Similarly, Jackson is known to win titles in multiples of three.
Given all those factors plus the sheer craziness of Ron Artest (that works both ways and was instrumental in the Lakers most recent championship run) and the steady support of relievers like Luke Walton, Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic, the Lakers are still the team to beat.