The narrative has been written and rewritten, discussed and re-discussed. When the Lakers traded for Dwight Howard and annexed Steve Nash, all the analysts predicted Laker supremacy. Kobe, with the aid of superstar Dwight Howard and future Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash, would tear through the West. Dwight would dominate the boards and would protect the paint from the likes of Kevin Durant and Lebron James. Steve Nash would orchestrate and command the Laker offense to perfection, and Kobe, like usual, would sink opposing teams in the waning minutes of a game. What all these analysts didn’t anticipate was the fact that the Laker team is old and their bench, frankly, isn’t really a bench. They didn’t anticipate that Dwight Howard’s style of play would clash with that of Kobe Bryant, that in order for things to fit together, things would need time.
But when the Lakers went into their slide, when they lost more games than they won, the same analysts that were praising the Lakers, that were proclaiming the Lakers as the next championship team, jumped off the sinking ship. Of course the Lakers wouldn’t make it to the playoffs, of course they’re an embarrassment, of course they should blow up the entire team and start from scratch, they would say. The hypersensitive media, changing beliefs from one moment to another, wrote the Lakers off; simply put, they were done. But their inconsistency, their stagnant offense, and their rotational problems slowly improved. Kobe and Dwight Howard, given time, could in fact coexist. Steve Nash found his niche. Steve Black would provide a spark off the nonexistent bench. Things could be improved, and they were in fact improving; so much so that, despite their abysmal start, the Lakers have climbed to the eighth seed, and, unlike some of the teams ahead of them, could be a major threat in the Western Conference.
Am I saying the Lakers have reemerged as contenders? No. Are they going to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Championship? Of course not. But if I were the Spurs or the Thunder or the Grizzlies or the Clippers, would I want to see the Lakers in the first round? And to that, I would also say no. The analysts should have stuck with their original beliefs. Although the Lakers are not a monolithic team, they are a dangerous one. Kobe is still Kobe, Dwight is still Dwight, and Steve Nash, albeit slower and older, is still Steve Nash. In the end, basketball comes down to talent, and the Lakers have some of the greatest talents in the NBA; my point, the top seeds in the West better hope that they won’t have to face the Lakers in the first round because they just might end up going home earlier than expected.