The 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers, have been a shocking anomaly. If you told me a team that consist of one of the best floor generals ever, 2 players who have won a combined 4 Defensive player of the year awards, plus you have Kobe Bryant, are three games under .500. I would’ve laughed at you, and wagered anything that you were wrong. Unfortunately I would have lost that wager. That’s what these Lakers are.
On Monday February 18, 2013, Jerry Buss, the legendary owner of the Lakers succumbed to an undisclosed form of cancer. He was 80 years old. The Naismith hall of fame billionaire, won 10 titles in 34 years. A unprecedented accomplishment! He made the Lakers the brand they are today, and introduced the world to the “Showtime” era. He always had the desire to win, and always made the moves (even when it was a gamble) to make the team better. I wonder how Dr. Buss, in his final days, felt about the discord and lower than expectations, his team had shown the last 3 months. He watched as the team became decimated by injury, showed a lack of chemistry on and off the court, and Dwight Howard, most of the time looked disinterested, down and disgruntled. Did he worry that the brand he superbly crafted would be destroyed and never seen again? No. The hard work, the determination, the dedication, and the resiliency were the threads that kept the fabric of his dreams a reality. He instilled this in those who worked with him, those who met him only briefly, and most importantly his family.
The Lakers have struggled this year, and the chances of them winning a ring, let alone making the playoffs, has dwindled to impossibility. This franchise isn’t your average franchise. They have been dealt with many obstacles over the years. Any other franchise would have crumbled when the face of there team was forced to retire due to the HIV virus( Magic Johnson). Or when there two best players clashed to the point of hatred. This isn’t your average franchise. This is Jerry’s franchise.
After a hearfelt montage and speech by Kobe before they faced the Celtics. The Lakers played inspired basketball, defeating there rivals 113-99. They looked determined to win, and that’s what was accomplished. The Lakers, 54 games in, finally put on display that they can play cohesive team basketball. They played the way virtually every analyst predicted. We know Kobe loves to play with a vendetta (thanks Mr. Cuban). Dwight, although his torn labrum will be a problem, seems to finally be getting some lift after his back surgery in the summer. Most importantly, he’s playing more focused (his screens are more efficient) and he’s playing with accountability. Can the Lakers make the playoffs? Yes. Will they win #17? Probably not.
They are finally playing the type of ball Dr. Buss has instilled in them. They are playing with determination, dedication, and resiliency. And when they play that way, with this talent, anything is feasible. Plus they are playing inspired basketball. They have won 11 of 15 since Dr. Buss passed. Two of those games in back to back settings. Dwight is playing like he wants to be here, and truly becoming the defensive anchor everyone knows him as. He is truly embracing his role, and that was displayed, in his 39 points 16 rebounds performance when he returned back to Orlando. Add that to the fact that Kobe, and Pau Gasol return to the lineup Friday vs. the Wizards, and it makes them even more formidable for the playoffs.
So Lakers, please do it for Jerry. He dedicated his life to Los Angeles, he gave his all so we as fans would be happy and remain interested. There would be no Kareem, Magic, Shaq, or Kobe, without his will to win. Now that his suite chair is empty, the time is now to play the type of ball, he desired. Jerry, your Legacy will live on.