For the duration of the off-season Kobe Bryant must have went to sleep and woke up every day smiling. Kobe wasn’t smiling just because he was about to be sporting a brand new blinged out pinky ring from winning the second of back-to-back NBA Championships, he wasn’t smiling because he’s rich as hell with a brand new contract, he wasn’t smiling because Phil Jackson agreed to return for another year to three-peat, but he was smiling mostly because he knew the Lakers were being slept on.
The NBA offseason was dominated by free agent signings and losers. Not losers in the truest sense of the word as in Brad Childress losers, but as in losers like Dallas Cowboys type losers. The Miami Heat were all over the news with their Big 3, 2 of which have never won anything. And then there was Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, two guys who have also never won anything, making headlines, and you can throw Chris Paul on that list as well. For Paul and Anthony their threats of leaving town was big news, even Allen Iverson heading to Turkey was breaking news, and through it all Kobe Bryant just kept smiling. Why? Because meanwhile, the Lakers were putting together the most complete roster they’ve had since Shaq was in town.
When you look at the Lakers roster today, from top to bottom this team is the best in the league on paper. The dismissal of ineffective back up point guard Jordan Farmar and the addition of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes have made the Lakers second unit arguably the best in the league. Everything the Lakers lacked last year they have picked up this year. Three point shooting, check, more perimeter defense, check, and legitimate back up guards to protect D-Fish and Kobe…check mate.
Lamar Odom playing with Team USA in the summer has him off to one of his best starts in his career as a Laker. Hollywood may have softened Artest up a little, but it’s made him a better player who doesn’t need a shot of ‘Henny’ at halftime anymore. Pau Gasol is the best center in the league and when Andrew Bynum returns the Lakers will have a dynamic duo in the frontcourt with postseason experience. And of course, let’s not forget that they still have the assassin Kobe Bryant who has learned how to trust his teammates and win.
So while the media ESPN focused its attention on fluff and the Miami Heat hype machine, the Lakers are the team of substance, re-tooled, refocussed and ready to three-peat. There was talk of Miami winning 70 games, what about the Lakers? Sportsbooks aren’t sleeping on how good the Lakers are, some are already putting up odds on how many wins the Lakers will get this year. The Lakers could very well break the 70 win mark this year. When you look at the teams in the west, no team truly matches up to the Lakers on any level. This Lakers team is much better than last year’s world championship team and they are already off to a 4-0 start, which will likely be 5-0 after they dust Sacramento tonight.
It’s time for people to wake up and stop sleeping on the Lakers.