Make no mistake, the current Lakers championship run is Kobe Bryant’s Sistine Chapel. If the Lakers can complete another three-peat, this will be Kobe’s greatest work of art, and for Phil Jackson it will be his Last Supper.
2008: The Lakers and Celtics met unexpectedly in a matchup which rekindled old rivalries and was the inception of new rivalries as well. The Lakers were defeated in an admittedly embarrassing fashion in 6 games as the Celtics captured the title. But the Lakers were without two of their key players: Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza. Imagine if the Celtics didn’t have James Posey or Kendrick Perkins and the Lakers were completely healthy. I don’t see the Celtics winning that series, in which case the Lakers would be sitting on their second three-peat of the decade.
2009 and 2010: The Lakers were the class of the league and won back-to-back championships. In 2009, Kevin Garnett was injured for much of the season and playoffs, and the Celtics never had a chance to properly defend their title. In 2010, Kendrick Perkins was injured in their Finals’ matchup with the Lakers. If the Celtics had been healthy both of those years, it’s possible they could be sitting on a three-peat, and not us.
Kobe Bryant at this point in his career could already have 7 championships, or maybe he should only have 3. If Karl Malone had been healthy in 2004, Robert Horry hit his game-winner against the Spurs in 2003, and Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza had been healthy in 2008, Kobe could have added three more rings to his collection. Conversely, if Tim Duncan had been healthy in 2000 and Kendrick Perkins has been healthy in 2010 maybe he would have lost out on both of those opportunities.
By taking a look into recent history and looking ahead towards the distant future, we can only hope as Lakers fans that we will continue to build upon recent success. It will take a combination of skill, hard work, preparation, and luck. We need all of our key components to be healthy and peaking at the right moment. We’ll also need a few lucky bounces and timely whistles. We have the talent and the desire to make a push for the history books. For the 2010-2011 NBA season, it’s championship or bust. It’s time for Kobe Bryant’s Sistine Chapel.
Shoutout to @710ESPN for this article idea.