With the Lakers set to begin training camp this week, it’s time to buckle-up and get ready for what promises to be an exciting, expectation-filled 2012-13 season. When a team adds the best center in the game and one of the best point guards in league history to a roster already boasting Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, lofty expectations are par for the course.
The Lakers have recently been reported as being co-favorites with the defending champion Miami Heat to win the championship this season.
Unlike the Heat, who formed their own star-studded roster in 2010, the Lakers have a very small window of opportunity to live up to the expectations surrounding them.
When Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were introduced for the first time as Miami Heat teammates, LeBron nonchalantly predicted they would win at least eight championships playing together.
People were obviously annoyed by and doubted the prediction for many reasons. Lack of team chemistry, lack of a supporting cast for the three stars and no A-list coach were popular gripes. But none of the doubts concerned whether or not the team had enough time to make their prediction come to fruition.
The trio was, and for the most part still is, in the prime of their respective careers.
Unlike the once deemed “Heatles,” time is definitely not on the new-look Lakers’ side. Can you imagine Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant sitting in the middle of Staples Center, predicting the team would win eight championships?
After erupting in applause, I am sure many fans would stop what they were doing to make sure the calendar didn’t read 2005.
Thanks to the relative old age and contract situations of the team’s stars, the Lakers realistically have a two-year championship window with their current nucleus.
Kobe has recently mentioned he may retire in two years when his current contract expires after the 2013-14 season. Pau Gasol’s contract also expires after the 2013-14 campaign, and even though I have every reason to believe that he will, there’s no guarantee Dwight Howard will be in Lakers uniform past this season.
Recent history points to more growing pains for “super teams” than instant success. The aforementioned Heat were humbled by Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs in 2011 and even the Lakers of 2008, after stealing Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies mid-season, took a beating at the hands of the Celtics (who did win a ‘ship in their first season after adding Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett) before winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.
If the newly formed quartet of Kobe, Howard, Nash and Gasol fade into the Los Angeles sunset without winning a championship, it won’t be the end of the world.
The organization will likely have Dwight Howard to build around for many seasons to come, following the retirement of Kobe. How many other franchises can say they have an All-Pro center to enjoy both now and later?
But at the same time, James, Bosh and Wade could be making major progress winning those eight championships. After all, time is a funny thing.