Heading into the 2020-21 season there were mixed thoughts on the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances of winning the NBA championship. There were questions about the supporting cast, whether LeBron James was now too old or Anthony Davis could shine on the biggest of stages.
And there was also doubt surrounding head coach Frank Vogel, who wasn’t the Lakers’ first choice, and whether he could lead a team to the highest level.
All of those were answered throughout the season and as things went on, the Lakers did emerge as one of the championship favorites, ultimately capturing that NBA title. For Vogel, his championship belief in this team came at different points in the season.
“I think we came out of the gate so strong, October, November, whenever this year began. Obviously on paper we felt like we had a team that we felt could compete for the championship. We came out of the gate strong and lost the first game, and I think went 17-1 after that and started thinking about we could do something special,” Vogel said.
“I think the weekend where we beat Milwaukee and the Clippers was huge for our internal confidence, that we could and were going to reach our goal.”
Though many focused on the Lakers’ loss to the L.A. Clippers on Opening Night, the team immediately bounced back in a big way by going 24-2 over the ensuing 26 games. It was then that the Lakers established their identity as a defensive force that could dominate the paint while adapting and playing any style necessary to get the win.
Then that weekend in March was the one that silenced any doubts about the Lakers’ ability to compete with the top teams. The Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks were the other favorites, and the Lakers beating them in back-to-back games in the same weekend sent a message they needed to be atop any championship favorites list.
Of course, the season would shut down soon after and there were questions as to whether there would even be an NBA season resuming — let alone the Finals. Once the teams arrived in Orlando and began playing, the Lakers were extremely inconsistent, but once the playoffs started all of that went away.
The Lakers went 16-5 on their way to the ring and Vogel played a huge role with his adjustments both in strategy and rotations. Frank Vogel more than earned his ring with the work he put in and his belief in this team was established early on.
Lakers tie Celtics in NBA history
In winning their 17th title, the Lakers have tied the Boston Celtics for the most championships in NBA history.
Of those, five were won while the team was led by George Mikan in Minneapolis. The Lakers won back-to-back in 1949 and 1950 followed by three straight from 1952-54. They won a sixth title in 1972, and five more in the 1980s during the ‘Showtime Era.’
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal then delivered three straight from 2000-02, having one of the most dominant runs in the history of the league. Bryant would then lead the Lakers to the mountain top with Pau Gasol as his co-star, winning back-to-back rings in 2009 and 2010.
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