The Los Angeles Lakers made major strides this offseason by signing LeBron James to add him to a young core of rising stars.
After winning 35 games during the past season, the Lakers are looking to compete amongst the Western Conference’s elite, namely the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have established themselves as a true dynasty, with four straight NBA Finals appearances and three titles to show for it.
They once again enter a season as the prohibitive favorite to win another ring, but Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is nonetheless looking forward to a challenge.
During a recent appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Johnson discussed facing the Warriors and explained why he would love to see the Lakers go toe-to-toe with the defending champions in the Western Conference Finals:
“I love competition, and I love chasing the best. They’re the best, so we’ll look forward to playing against them.… I think we will look forward to that challenge. Everybody expects Golden State to win again, but I would love to have the challenge and to play them in the Western Conference Finals if we can get to that position.”
Johnson added that he believes the additions made this summer gives the Lakers some players who can help establish a championship mentality the Lakers haven’t had:
“I’m a competitor, so I’m not scared of Golden State. I’m not worried about Golden State. They don’t keep me up at night. I know we have a really solid team, a good team, a competitive team, and a tough-minded team. And we’ve got guys now who are winners. LeBron James brings a championship mentality to our team. So does Rondo; he’s won a championship with Boston. And then JaVale McGee, who used to play for Golden State, he’s won two championships.”
Of course, just making it to the Conference Finals will be a challenge in the loaded West. The Lakers will potentially have to get through the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz just to get that opportunity.
But that is the journey the Lakers are looking to make and if they get the chance to square off against Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the Warriors, Magic will be right there pushing his team to be at their best.