LOS ANGELES – The Lakers are now on the verge of their 17th title. Andrew Bynum (17) served his purpose. He developed into a good enough player to be traded for Dwight Howard (12), who can help the Lakers catch and pass the Celtics in total titles. Photo by Jason Lewis
Blockbuster trade is for much more than All Star center Dwight Howard.
The Lakers traded for No. 17, but that is not center Andrew Bynum, who has worn that number while playing for the Lakers. The Lakers did not just trade for All Star center Dwight Howard. There is a much bigger prize on their horizon.
The Lakers traded for an opportunity to win their 17th NBA championship. This trade is all about history. It is not about keeping up with the Miami Heat or the Oklahoma City Thunder. At this point the Heat are just a blip on the radar in terms on NBA history, and the Thunder have not even registered a signal.
There is one team, and one team only that the Lakers have been chasing for decades. That would be the Boston Celtics, who are sitting on 17 championships, only one more than the Lakers.
The Lakers have been the premiere franchise in the NBA over the past 30 years, and in the modern era, they have won 10 titles to the Celtics four. But the Celtics have always stayed ahead of the Lakers. As long as the Lakers are behind, they can never truly say that they are the best franchise in NBA history.
Well the Celtics run may all come to an end, because the Lakers now have the best starting five in the league, which includes two of the best players playing today.
The Heat’s Big 3 is nice and all, but the Lakers have the best center in the league, the best shooting guard in Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash is still one of the best point guards, Pau Gasol is still regarded as one of the most skilled big men, and every 3-point shot that Metta World Peace takes this year will be a wide open one.
Sure, the Thunder are still younger and more athletic than the Lakers, but the Lakers are rolling out five All Star players in their starting line up, with the best defensive player in the league manning the paint. The Thunder will not simply drive to the basket like they did in the playoffs against the Lakers last year, because Howard is not going to allow that. There is no worry about him not showing up to play like there was with Bynum. And Bryant and World Peace have routinely been members of the NBA’s All Defensive teams, with World Peace once winning the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, which Howard has won three times.
Anybody who has questioned the leadership of Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss, who appears to be running the team, needs to stand down, because those two just pulled a Jerry West type move. This summer they have brought in Nash and Howard for Bynum and a few first round draft picks that most likely would not have amounted to much at all, and they have not had to take back any bad contracts or lose Gasol. How was that even possible?
The trade rumors that were floating around were that the Lakers would have to lose both Bynum and Gasol, and take back bad horrible contracts from Jason Richardson and/or Hedo Turkoglu. But Howard is a Laker with Gasol still in town, and they do not have to worry about wasting millions of dollars on bad players like Richardson and Turkoglu.
It’s just insane that the Lakers were able to pull that off. Bryant probably walked into the Team USA locker room at the Olympics with a smirk on his face, directed right at LeBron James, because the chances of James winning any titles over the next couple of years has greatly been diminished while the chances of Bryant catching, and passing Michael Jordan in total titles has skyrocketed.
But the big prize, catching the Celtics, is now within the Lakers grasp. Not only catching them, but blowing right past their heated rivals from Boston. If this works out for the Lakers, and they can get a couple titles out of this group and surpass the Celtics for the most titles, the only team that will be comparable to the Lakers in American professional sports is the Yankees.
The Lakers and Yankees are alike in several aspects, mostly in that both franchises will stop at nothing to build a championship team. Last year the Lakers tried to blow up their roster by trading for All Star point guard Chris Paul, but commissioner David Stern vetoed the move. This time around, Stern does not have any power to squash this blockbuster trade, and the Lakers are back on top of this league.
By Jason Lewis
Special to the NNPA from the Los Angeles Sentinel