Hollywood Happy Ending Or Hollywood Tragedy?

Heading into the 2008 NBA season the Los Angeles Lakers faced much adversity in the offseason. Their roster didn’t have many fans/critics on their side, many thought Kobe Bryant was due to get dealt before the season even started. All this emotion, and frustration loomed over the Hollywood hills for much of the summer. Eventually the Lakers were able to re-sign Kobe Bryant heading into the season to ensure him being a Laker throughout his NBA career. But Bryant had one request, and that was to have a competitive roster, and an improved team to have a shot at another ring. Team owner Dr. Buss, and GM Mitch Kupchak held true to their words, and brought in All-Star PF Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies right before the NBA Trade Deadline.

Gasol made an instant impact on this Lakers team who’d eventually find themselves on top of the Western Conference, and in the NBA Finals. After a dramatic summer they had themselves a pretty outstanding season despite coming up short to the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Defense was their major concern heading into the next season, mostly because that was the main reason they lost in the Finals to Boston. Moving forward to the next season in 2009, the team defense improved significantly with Gasol getting more physical, Odom, and Bynum’s presence in the paint made it tough for the rest of the league to get by these 7 footers. Granit, Bynum got injured during the season, and Pau Gasol stepped in, and did a great job. The depth of this team kept the ball rolling, and with help from Trevor Ariza on both sides of the ball, Kobe Bryant led his Lakers to an NBA Finals appearance against the Orlando Magic. The Lakers dominated the series, and won it all in 5 games. Kobe not only received his first regular season MVP that year, but the Finals MVP honor as well. A true Hollywood happy ending story.

After the celebrations came to a close, and it was time to buckle down on the team’s defense of their title, the Lakers knew they’d have their work cut out for them. The team made a major move in the offseason by getting rid of Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest; a defensive minded player who can also contribute on the offensive side of the ball. With the team keeping their focus on the goal, and task at hand the Lakers indeed found themselves back in the Finals for a third straight year. This time around they would have their chances to redeem themselves against the Celtics, the rivalry was renewed yet again. This series was a hard fought battle between rivals, and it went 7 games. During Game 7 Ron Artest was a major factor on both sides of the ball, and helped lead the Lakers to Back 2 Back titles. Kobe Bryant won yet another Finals MVP to add to his career hardware of success. Kobe had surpassed Shaq in terms of career Championships, and Phil Jackson reached the 10 rings plateau passing the great Red Auerbach. Once the parades, and celebrations came to an end, the Lakers had their minds of a 3 peat…

The journey for a 3 peat is a tough road ahead, and that’s why not many teams actually get it done. Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s, also the Kobe & Shaq Lakers of the early 2000’s are the most recent teams to achieve such a feat. Andrew Bynum got the injury bug again, Kobe had his share of problems, and the team just seemed less hungry at times than they looked in season’s past. Los Angeles beat the Hornets in the first round of the Playoffs but had a tough time sticking with CP3. During the next round, the team looked tired, and couldn’t stop the Mavs quickness with Barea, Dirk’s domination, and Dallas’ defense held its own. The Mavs would eventually sweep L.A. out of the Playoffs, Bynum took a cheap shot at Barea (he will be facing a 5 game suspension once the 2011 season starts), Matt Barnes got into an argument with the opposing team’s assistant coach, and after all these altercations, and shenanigans were put to a halt, Phil Jackson didn’t go out the way he intended to.

Heading into this upcoming season the Lakers have many questions about their current roster, and their future as well. Once the NBA Lockout ended the Lakers got on the phones, and reached out to the Hornets. They wanted Chris Paul, but David Stern took reign over the deal that would’ve traded Odom to the Hornets, Gasol to the Rockets, and Paul to the Lakers, and turned down the deal. This trade rejection sent chaos through LA-LA land. Lamar would soon be dealt to the defending champion Mavericks for basically nothing (draft pick, and trade exemption). Many thought L.A. would go after Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard this offseason. They did go after Paul, but failed to get him. Now their attention has been on Howard. But is Howard really worth it in the long run? Yes, they’d have a promising future with the league’s best Center playing for L.A. for years to come, to take over the throne once the King retires (Kobe Bryant). But having Howard means losing Bynum, and Gasol more than likely. In my opinion losing both the Lakers big men may not be worth it, call me crazy but maybe the deals that didn’t work out or yet to happen have been a blessing in disguise…With The Black Mamba (Kobe Bryant) coming off of an innovative knee surgery in Germany, he claims he feels better than ever, and he could be more dangerous than ever this upcoming season despite getting another year older. Pau Gasol is an All-Star PF, who can get you rebounds, quality passing, solid defense, and an all-around great shooter for a 7 footer, and Andrew Bynum has the makings of being one, if not the best Center in basketball in his future. Being the youngest player ever to be drafted in the NBA, he’s had time to develop, and this year is no different. I believe Bynum could be gearing up for his best season of his career, and solidifying his spot on this team for years to come. He is the future, and always has been. Andrew took care of his body this offseason, he did a lot of boxing with his trainer to keep in shape, and stay stronger with better conditioning. His trainer says he’s primed for his best season by far. Andrew Bynum has a better post game than Dwight does, yes I know Howard won Defensive Player Of The Year, and he’s the most dominant big man in the game today but Andrew does have better post moves, post game overall, and can be just as good on the defensive end. The key to the success of Bynum is whether or not he can stay healthy. Is his career going to be plagued by injuries or is he just having a bad couple of years? We shall wait, and see…

Los Angeles has been put down quite a bit over the offseason thus far, critics saying they’re too old, they don’t have the right roster to have a championship team, this, and that…Well look at the offseason this team had leading up to the ’08 season, many questions lingered then, and they made it to the Finals that year. I see this playing out the same way this season, I truly think this team is still just as talented as ever, but the bench is going to be a factor in whether or not this team can make a run. They have to play well in order for them to make it to the Finals, and they certainly have the potential to do so. Bryant is primed for a big year, Gasol, and Bynum are looking to clear their names from trade rumors, and focus on the task at hand. The Lakers have had more rest than they’ve had in years, and the team will be ready to answer the doubters. Maybe not so fast on the Hollywood tragedy, when there’s still a Hollywood happy ending looming over these Lakers…

By Drew Kashmer

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