Complete with their all-black uniforms and egos sure to repulse any person not a resident of the 305, the Heat fell into the role of villain virtually overnight. Never has a team been so universally hated, and so quickly. Fans cheered for their demise and waited anxiously for them to fail miserably. And while we still share these feelings for this team, the Lakers find themselves in a very similar position of dealing with the hype, attention and crazy expectations.
In reality, nothing’s changed. It’s always championship or bust for this franchise. Sure, when you’ve got a star-studded cast, those expectations grow. Normally, the larger the expectations, the greater the pressure. But for this squad of seasoned vets, and their previously mentioned experience, it’s just another season of chasing the ring. This isn’t a young OKC team trying to break through. This is a group of guys who have been dealing with high expectations their entire careers. Same goal, different season.
One of the big concerns with this reloaded Lakers team is problems with chemistry. How are these individual pieces going to work together? Kobe summed it up nicely:
“We all do different things. The pieces just fit naturally. I love to shoot, Steve loves to pass. Dwight loves to dominate the boards and dominate the paint. Pau loves to facilitate from the elbows. The pieces just naturally fit.”
Of course, no one is going to buy those words until it’s shown on the court. But he makes some good points. Each player serves a different purpose on the court and brings his own set of skills to the game. LeBron and Wade were redundant. In fact, they still are. That was an every-possession problem of “who’s-going-to-shoot-the-ball-this-time”. When you’ve got two alpha males used to being the man, things can get awkward and the offense suffers. The Lakers, on the other hand, have pieces that work off each other instead of on their own.
LeBron and Wade averaged 27 and 26 per game, respectively, and after Bosh’s 19 per game, the scoring dropped off. Plus, their primary ball distributor was also their leading scorer. The Lakers just signed a guy who specializes in dishing it out so those kind of chemistry problems don’t exist. The only problem Hair Canada will have is finding the superstar not dealing with double teams.
So what if the Lakers follow in the 2010-2011 Heat’s footsteps and come up short this year? Is the first year of Kobe/Dwight/Nash considered a failure? Well yeah, it would be. But we all know there will be some chemistry issues and growing pains in the beginning. How long this adjustment period will be, nobody knows. Hopefully it’ll be like 12 games max. But with Kobe’s comments regarding his impending retirement, this appears to be, at least, a 2-year experiment.
There’s no question about it, the Lakers are absolutely loaded this year. And with that revamp, the bar is set a little higher. But that doesn’t mean anything’s changed. Expectations might rise and the spotlight might feel hotter but it’s always been there. It’s Hollywood, man. If you want to say that these Lakers are the 2010-2011 Heat all over again, look at both rosters: their star power, role players, experience and coaching and then think again.
Some pieces just fit better. And the pieces Mitch found this summer look pretty good.
I’m not guaranteeing a title here. But I will make one prediction: Lakers basketball is going to be exciting again. It’ll be – dare I say – Showtime.
In case you missed it, our exclusive interview with Mychal Thompson, Pt. 2! What does he have to say about the future of the Lakers, AFTER Kobe?[jwplayer config=”lakersnation_player” file=”http://youtu.be/8aFlC4JQQ7k” autostart=”false”]