Why The Lakers?

by Bruce Allen on October 29, 2008

In perusing the various NBA predictions for the 2008-2009 season, it seems that the Lakers are the trendy pick to make it back to the NBA finals and knock off the Celtics as World Champions.

Why?

The experts have their reasons. Lets take a sampling of the ESPN experts, (yes, the same group who picked 9-1 in favor of the Lakers in last year’s NBA finals) to see why they feel so strongly.

Chris Broussard of ESPN the Magazine says: The combination of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol is just too much. Too much for what, I say? I still think the Celtics top three and the rest of their roster is better. Ric Bucher, also of ESPN The Mag says: Bynum’s finishing at the rim and patrolling the paint changes everything. Mark Jackson of ESPN, and the ABC broadcasting team says: The Celtics lost James Posey, but the Lakers got Bynum back.

So apparently the just-turned 21 Bynum is the piece that will push the Lakers back through the tough Western conference and over the Celtics in June. (Assuming of course, the Celtic get there.) Andrew Bynum is a good looking young player with a ton of potential. In 35 games last season he averaged 13 points a game before getting hurt and missing the rest of the season with a dislocated kneecap. He brings size and muscle to the Lakers frontcourt , something that we saw firsthand last June that the Lakers sorely lack. Is he enough to guarantee a championship for Los Angeles? Bynum still has a lot of improvement to make and needs to be able to stay healthy this season. I just don’t see how his presence is such a convincing factor for these people making these predictions.

But wait, there are a few more experts still to weigh in, and they have different reasons.

Chad Ford of ESPN.com states: This is the year Kobe finally will take home an NBA title without Shaq. Chris Palmer of ESPN The Magazine says it a little more strongly: There is still no single player in the league who has a greater drive or desire to win than Kobe Bryant. No way will he get denied two years in a row. Really? That’s the type of statement that is so ridiculous that it drives me nuts. Just how do you measure such qualities as “drive or desire to win?” Last time I checked, the Celtics had a few guys who were pretty driven, notably Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. You’re telling me that Kobe Bryant has a greater drive than Kevin Garnett? Again, how in the world can you make such a statement? As for the last part of that statement, Kobe has now actually been denied six years in a row. But no way will he be denied two years in a row. Go figure.

I’m still puzzled over the hold that Kobe Bryant has on the national media. What is it with this guy? He’s clearly patterned everything about himself after Michael Jordan. His game, the way he talks, walks even dressed. It’s bizarre. But one thing is clear, Kobe has proven to be no MJ when it comes to leading a champion. He can’t even yell at and motivate his teammates the same way Jordan could. Yet, the national media fawn over his every move. You don’t hear much about the case in Colorado anymore, do you? If that were anyone else, would they be allowed to move on from such an incident like it never even happened? Just remember, THIS is the year Kobe finally puts it all together and wins a title without Shaq. The experts say so.

The last statement about the Lakers championship hopes comes from old friend Jackie MacMullan, formerly of the Boston Globe, and now with ESPN. Jackie tells us that the reason that the Lakers will win the championship is GM Mitch Kupchak will make another midseason deal to put them over the top. So Jackie is telling us that a player that is not currently on the Lakers roster will be the difference in putting the Lakers over the top.

Genius! Now who will that player be? LeBron James? Tim Duncan? Steve Nash? After all, Kupchak stole Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies last season, so some dimwitted GM is sure to hand over their franchise player to the Lakers for flotsam and jetsam. Right? That’s how it works.

It’s destined to happen because the Lakers are going to be NBA champions this season. Everybody says so.

What do you think?

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