When you dedicate a six-part series to telling a group of fans that their team's most storied season wouldn't have happened but for the role of two players from their hated nemesis, you're bound to get a few responses, none of them kind. And so it was with my series entitled "It Took Two Celtics for the Lakers to Win Their First Title in LA." Lakers' fans really enjoyed me telling them that their team's hallowed 33-game win streak actually ended at 30 with a loss to the Celtics, except for the fact that the NBA needed to keep the streak alive for the Lakers' rematch with the defending champions, Milwaukee Bucks.
The real point of this post, however, is to focus on a particular claim made by Lakers' fans in response to the series. Very few even chose to comment about the 1971-72 Lakers' season. Instead, most comments took a pseudo-psychological angle, arguing that my series was motivated out of fear that the Lakers would soon reach 18 NBA championships (one more than the Celtics), perhaps more, before Kobe retires.
That's a lot of titles.
It took all the luck in the world for the Lakers to win three in a row early in the 2000s, and that was with the best big man in the league on their team. The first win over the Kings in the WCFs could easily have been an L. They won the title last year, but one of the series went to 7 games, and another required two OT victories by the purple. That doesn't sound like a team that has so far separated itself from the pack that it can start banking on more titles in the immediate future.
This year all of their rivals have gotten stronger, and Kobe's not getting any younger. Meanwhile, their own fans have spent the summer making fun of a bench that consists of Adam Morrison, Sashy Vigatooth, and Luke Walton. Even Andrew Bynum, once thought by Laker Nation to be a combination of Wilt, Shaq, and Kareem, has been criticized by Laker fans as overrated and mediocre. Lamar Odom did return. But is he really that much more consistent and reliable than the player Phil Jackson described as "lost and confused" during the 2008 NBA Finals?
Yes, the Lakers are the favorites to win. But the Boston Celtics were favored to repeat last year. Come to think of it, the Lakers were favored to win the 2008 NBA Finals. Funny how often the pundits and oddsmakers get that Celtics-Lakers thing wrong, huh?