The Los Angeles Lakers opened training camp last season on December 1st, about 7-weeks after they lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the Orlando bubble.
According to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it was that historically short turnaround that led to the unprecedented injury toll the league suffered while navigating through 72-games and the playoffs. They’d also tell you it’s one of the reasons the Lakers got were not able to meet their expectation of repeating as NBA champions.
With the 2021-22 NBA season slated to start on October 19, this Lakers team will have much more time to recover and perhaps reflect back on these franchise legends as they look to perform better in the upcoming season.
More Than Just an Elite Level Baller
There were always two sides to the indomitable character that was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: the first being his uncanny ability to score from seemingly every conceivable angle in the key, and the second being his willingness to stand up for what he believed in, both on and off the NBA parquet.
That mentality and approach to sport and life, in general, has clearly rubbed off on current Lakers, such as Lebron James, who carries himself in much the same way. That is why sports bettors and fans are every bit as likely to see King James’ name plastered all over the top basketball picks this week, as they are to see it splashed across news media outlets in connection to issues with wider social consequences than a game of ball.
It is this ability to decipher what is truly important in life that ultimately allowed Abdul-Jabbar to play with such unbridled freedom throughout his incredible career. This was epitomized by the jump shot move he patented, called the Skyhook, which to this day has not been mastered by another player. The current Lakers squad would do well to try and think about what innovations they can bring to the court during the NBA playoffs, so as to delight their loyal fans and shock their closest rivals.
His Spirit Rides on Every Lakers Shot
The Lakers do not really need any more motivation to go out and defend their NBA Championship crown but honoring the memory of one of their greatest ever players is certainly helping them dig deep at clutch moments in games.
What singled the “Black Mamba” out as the greatest player ever to don a Lakers vest were his leadership abilities, which allowed those players he shared a locker room with to rising to his level.
This ultimately meant that the entire Lakers team used to sing from the same Black Mamba hymn sheet, delivering multiple NBA Championships in the process. It is that same sort of mindset and approach that the current crop of Lakers must adopt if they are to write themselves into the history books with a second consecutive title tilt. At the end of the day, that is exactly how Bryant would want to be remembered by his former franchise and the wider NBA.
Still Sprinkling Magic Dust to This Day
Just when the rest of the league’s franchises thought they’d caught a break with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career winding down, along came Magic Johnson, to put them all on notice for the whole of the 1980s.
He came into the team as a mere rookie at the NBA Championships game but made an immediate impact by drilling Philly for 42 points in the title decider. From that moment on he was seen as the man who helped bring the Lakers franchise into the modern sporting era, redefining it in his own image.
LA’s stars need to realize that they have exactly the same transformative powers that Johnson did all those years ago, and that the beauty of playing for the Lakers is that the franchise can be anything they want it to be. That said, few contemporary ballers will ever match up to the incredible consistency Johnson displayed throughout his career, being called up to the All-Star team on no less than 12 occasions.
Other honorable mentions also go to Lakers legends Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West, whose approach to the sport of basketball should also be taken into account by the players of today.