How bout dem' Lakers is a question we all have after last nights defensive masterclass against the Miami Heat. The Lakers only ended up winning 106-93 in a game 6 game clinching performance but that game is much more than the box score entails. Although the star forward didn't have his best performance, Anthony Davis turned into a young Bill Russell blocking shots and making defenders run away from the paint. Davis led the team in what was a beautiful performance on that side of the ball. That game was a perfect metaphor for this Lakers season, so let's talk about it.
Last season the Lakers finished 37-45 in what was an abysmal debut season for LeBron in the bright lights of Los Angeles. GM LeBron James and his good friend Rob Pelinka decided to trade half the roster and their entire future for one man, Anthony Davis. From that point on it was championship or bust until the Clippers traded for Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers had the top 2 players in the league but everybody had Kawhi's championship run with Toronto fresh on the mind so most people assumed the Clippers were a shoe-in to win the chip. If you were to tell us that LeBron would have won his 4th Finals MVP and the Clippers had one of the biggest disruptions in the history of pro sports Steve Balmer would've punched you straight in the face. But here we are.
The Lakers struggled with offense all season and this didn't change in the playoffs. They knew their identity was to win the ball game on the defensive end and they did that throughout the year. The Lakers were the top defensive team in the league throughout the entire year but the only way they could generate offense was on transition due to the DEFENSIVE STOPS THEY WERE CONSISTENTLY GETTING. My biggest problem with people hating on the Lakers offense is that they weren't built to be an offense first team. They looked stagnant at times especially with LeBron off the court but this all changed on January 26th, 2020. The day of the tragic passing of Lakers and NBA legend Kobe Bean Bryant.
Every player in the league mourned for months after his tragic passing but it affected the Lakers players and fanbase the most. Kobe was a legend in the city of Los Angeles and it was only the night after LeBron passed Kobe on the all-time scoring list that he passed. At that moment, the Lakers knew what they had to do. To carry on Kobe's legacy, to do justice to one of the best careers we've ever seen, and to do it for each other. Every man in that locker room after last night knew what and who they won that championship for. I watched the post game celebrations for about 30-40 minutes last night just to see the happiness in their eyes knowing they did him justice. The NBA will never get over the passing of Kobe, but after last night, I can go to sleep knowing the Lakers did all they could for him.
There will always be people trying to discredit LeBron for any way possible. "He played crappy teams," or "He had a generational talent on his team," will always be phrases thrown around in the ether but don't get it twisted, this season is just as valid as any other championship we've ever seen. I won't argue that it's more impressive but I think the mental anguish the everybody in the NBA especially the Lakers have went through this year isn't easily comparable to any other season. In the end, the BEST team won this year. Not the most talented (Clippers), not the team most acclimated to the modern game (Warriors or Celtics), and certainly not the best fit team (anybody other than the Sixers or the Lakers applies here) but in fact the best team. I love this Lakers team because of all the personalities but also because how they put it all together. The team is weird, it wouldn't work on a 2k21 Sim (even though the game sucks) but they managed to make it work.
Who knows whats to come for the Lakers or even for NBA basketball at that point but I know this season will be one of the most memorable ones ever. In the future I'll be ranking greatest NBA seasons of all time and there is no doubt in my mind that this season will be high on the ranks.