The NBA’s Biggest Free Agent

Written by: Dustin Malcolm

Queen was never the same after Freddy Mercury died. No one could quite embody his flashy style or emulate his vocal range. The band was never able to reach the same level of success without him. Laker fans have been blessed with the presence of an iconic “front-man,” in head coach Phil Jackson. But the question that stands at the forefront of our minds for next season is, “Will we get our ‘lead singer’ back?” Could the team reach the NBA Finals without him? The argument for wanting Phil back is bulletproof, just look at all the records he holds as a head coach. Success always finds Phil Jackson’s teams, so can the Lakers find the same success without him?

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson speaks during a news conference at the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts June 12, 2010. The 2010 NBA Finals resumes June 13 when the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers meet in Game 5 in Boston. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Mere days following what many of this generation’s Laker fans will consider the greatest experience of their basketball lives, we find ourselves back in the year 2004. This particular year was one Lakers fans would rather forget, as it represented the temporary displacement of a dynasty and the implosion in the balance of greatness.

After a devastating loss to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, the Lakers appeared down for the count. Legendary coach released The Last Season, which detailed the rather “uncoachable” battle he experienced with star Kobe Bryant. The climax of the Shaq vs. Kobe feud became the catalyst for a slippery slope of events that led to the big man being traded to Miami. Residual effects from a prolonged assault trial temporarily tainted Bryant’s legacy, and Karl Malone and Gary Payton, who took rather significant pay cuts for the opportunity to win that ever-elusive title, only to come up short and leave the Lakers looking rather old and beat up.

Next: What’s At Stake for Phil Jackson and the Lakers…

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