ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith Believes Lakers Are Still Best NBA Franchise Over Celtics
Anthony Davis, Al Horford, Lakers, Celtics
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Much to the dismay of the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans, the Boston Celtics won their 18th NBA Championship by defeating the Dallas Mavericks in five games in the NBA Finals. Not only was it the Celtics’ first championship in 16 years, but it put them back ahead of the Lakers in all-time NBA Championships at 18 to 17.

This has, of course, led to plenty of discussion between Lakers and Celtics fans over who the top franchise in the NBA is. Celtics fans, by way of having more championships, believe that gives their team that claim, but many would disagree, including ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

In Tuesday’s episode of First Take, the topic was discussed with Smith proclaiming that the Lakers were still the NBA’s top franchise and explained why he believes that is the case:

Smith’s argument is a valid one and is based in facts. While the Celtics do have one more championship, the Lakers have significantly more NBA Finals appearances and have been more relevant throughout NBA history.

Since the NBA/ABA merger in 1977, the Lakers have won 11 NBA Championships to the Celtics’ five, with three of those coming in a five-season span during the 1980s with Larry Bird. The Lakers won five championships during that same timeframe led by Magic Johnson and the Showtime era, another five in the 2000s with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal at the helm, and the most recent one in 2020 with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way.

Outside of the couple of years between Kobe’s retirement and LeBron signing, the Lakers have always remained relevant in the NBA world and have more consistently been a contender. Smith believes that is enough to put them at the top of the all-time franchise rankings and it is difficult to argue that.

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell’s free agency options dwindling?

The Lakers will have to make some moves in order to get back to championship contention and one player who has a big decision to make this summer is point guard D’Angelo Russell. He is expected to decline his player option for $18.6 million, but his free agency options may not be as vast as he hopes.

A recent report noted that the Orlando Magic, whom most feel is the most likely landing spot for Russell if he were to leave in free agency, would not be willing to match the money he is set to make on his player option. While Russell is on Orlando’s radar, it does not look to be for big money.

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