On Monday, The Los Angeles Times wrote a story about Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss believing that this year’s team might be the best team yet. This means that this year’s team is better than any of the 1980’s “Showtime” Lakers who won five championships or even the 2000-2002 Lakers when they won three consecutive titles. Personally, that statement might be a little too cocky for the brilliant owner to say.
Since Buss purchased the franchise in 1979 from Jack Kent Cooke for $67.5 million, since then, the Lakers have won 16 conference titles and 10 NBA titles under his reign. Here were two different championship rosters by generation of how good each team actually was and what the results ended up being.
In the 1986-1987 season, the Lakers had the likes of Kurt Rambis, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and James Worthy — those were the Lakers’ most well-known players alone. Their record was 67-15 in the regular season and they posted a ridiculous 15-3 record in the playoffs to win the title. Those two losses were in the NBA finals against, guess who, the Boston Celtics. Oh yeah, Pat Riley was their head coach.
In 2000-2001, the Lakers had the likes of Shaquille O’Neal (when he was happy), Kobe Bryant (pre-injury days), Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Devean George and others. Even though they had a so-called off-year during the three-peat years when they went 56-26, which was second best in the Western Conference, they still had a unstoppable 15-1 record in the postseason, with their only loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Those two rosters were the better teams than this year’s team. This year’s team will probably win a championship this season, however, they will have more competition around them this year between the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder and even the Dallas Mavericks.
This year’s roster has not played a game yet, so it is hard to tell how good this team can be. Their main strength is their solid depth and versatility in all of their positions. Whoever starts between Derek Fisher and Steve Blake will be a good decision. Kobe is their shooting guard position, Sasha Vujacic doesn’t count. Ron Artest will be a good defender once again, while Matt Barnes will be an excellent back-up. When Andrew Bynum leaves the game, Pau Gasol can shift to center and Odom can play power forward, or maybe Theo Ratliff can spot some minutes.
Their weakness could be age and injuries. Will Kobe’s and Bynum’s knees hold up? How much mileage does Kobe have left? Will Ron Artest have a better year?
There really isn’t anyone on the team who is truly dominant. Gasol is probably their best player because he can do everything but shoot three-pointers. Kobe is still very good, but not as good as he was in the early 2000s. Artest is not the player he used to be and Odom is as confusing as a Rubik’s cube. We shall see if Barnes and Blake will prove themselves deep in the postseason.
In a way, the guy just got inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame as an owner last weekend. Only so many players and executives are inducted into the holy grail of the NBA. Who wouldn’t be a cocky S.O.B. after that?