There is a new force to be reckoned with in the west. Well not really new, as much as revitalized.
Since I have been old enough to follow sports, the Lakers and Spurs have competed for the top spot in the Western Conference. It’s been a heavyweight battle with the occasional sprinkling in of a Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, or even maybe the Utah Jazz. The past two years the young-gunning Oklahoma City Thunder have risen to the next level, and frankly the Lakers are not okay with their two year hiatus from the Finals.
Few teams in sports find the need to make serious change after a year or two of unsuccessful seasons. Don’t get me wrong, 85 percent of teams would consider what the Lakers did last year — winning their respective division — successful, but that’s what separates the elite from the rest in sports: demanding the ultimate prize every year.
The Lakers, who are never content when their fingers don’t gain a ring, went out this past offseason and acquired Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison. They want to win every year, and this one is no exception.
To say the unit hasn’t quite meshed yet is a fair assertion, and perhaps a bit of an understatement at that.
They are 0-2 thus far in the young stages of the season, but 0-10 when adding in the preseason. Their first loss was home to a Dirk Nowitzki-ess Mavericks team. Wednesday they fell to the Trailblazers despite their 106-point offensive performance.
Everything that could have gone wrong so far for the new-look Lakers has, including Steve Nash leaving Wednesday night’s game early with a minor injury, but getting back to the big picture, it’s two games. Just like any newly manufactured team, success takes time.
Bryant is a top-five player in the league. Nash can facilitate and run an offense as well as any point man in the league. Howard, when healthy and fully dedicated like many expect him to be this year, is the best big man in the league.
The Lakers will right their wrongs and it will happen soon. They will turn it around and they will bring success of the LA style back to the Staples Center. The talent is obviously there, the chemistry will develop, and they have the necessary experience to win in the playoffs. Come June, look out for the purple and gold to be making some noise.