Three-peat…the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Lakers. It’s five year mission to reach the NBA Finals each year in the final contract of its franchise star, to explore the potential of its young, injury-plagued center, to add and subtract from a ever-improving supporting cast, to boldly go where few teams have gone before.
Starring Kobe Bryant as “the face of the franchise,” he is an aging star fighting for his place among basketball immortality. Now in his final years, Bryant is often referred to as the Lakers “closer,” facilitating the offense and striking at the heart of the opponent just in time to deliver the knock-out punch. This is the Lakers formula for success, when Bryant strays outside this formula, whether by necessity or not, the Lakers suffer; for the Lakers to succeed he needs to stick to what works best.
Co-starring Pau Gasol, as “the first officer,” he has the responsibility of carrying the bulk of the mission responsibilities on his sometimes shaky shoulders. For the Lakers to accomplish their mission Gasol must not revert to his passive Memphis years, but instead demand that he be the Lakers number one option. He provides the balance on the offensive end which then dictates the pace and readiness on the defensive side. When the triangle starts with Gasol, the Lakers are nearly unstoppable.
Also co-starring Derek Fisher as “the Captain,” Fish must find the words to keep his crew focused and he must provide the steady hand to navigate this ship where few teams have gone before. Fisher just signed a three year contract, but as the core of up-and-coming point guard cadets in the Western Conference continues to deepen, Fish will have his work cut out for him. For the Lakers to flourish, Fish doesn’t need to be a star he just needs to remain steady.
With special guest-appearances by Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, two seven footers that along with Gasol provide the Lakers with an unmatched weapon: one seven footer who can handle the ball, work from the outside and outrun any forward who dares to match up with him and another who gives them the muscle, the strength, and the size inside. Together they are perfect compliments to the finesse game deployed by the Lakers other seven footer, Pau Gasol.
Odom and Bynum have but one purpose on this mission: to exceed expectations and to provide Bryant and Gasol the support they need, especially on nights that the two stars struggle. Odom and Bynum need to assert themselves into larger roles this year. They need to turn their supporting roles into lead roles; especially as teams focus in on Bryant and hammer down on Gasol. When engaged, Odom and Bynum provide the Lakers something with which no team in the league can compete. When disengaged, it’s the Lakers who come up short, literally!
Next: The Sky Is Not Falling