We should have seen it coming.
All the signs were there. The age of Steve Nash. The immaturity of Dwight Howard. The franchise’s lack of belief in Pau Gasol. The mediocrity of Ron Artest (I dont care if he changed his name). And the incomprehensible decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson.
Not even the mighty Kobe Bryant will all his talent, drive, and determination could have saved this fast-sinking ship.
The decisions the Lakers made for their franchise this year were made with the goal of getting a couple quick titles. They knew they were adding age and only giving themselves a 2-3 year window with this current roster. This wasn’t a rebuilding project. This was a win right now and get Kobe some titles so he can feel better than Michael Jordan project.
Yet they contradicted their own plan. They chose pieces that would hold them back, not help them win right now.
All year it was a struggle, and after barely limping into the playoffs, they find themselves the victims of a 1st round sweep.
What could have been done differently?
What made the three-peat Lakers or the back-to-back title winning Lakers of Kobe’s era so successful?
They put the right pieces in place for the competition they were facing. Much like how the Miami Heat have built a team that can sink almost any shot, play great transition ball, and still power their way to the rim in an era of the NBA filled with quick, athletic players, those Laker teams put the pieces in place to win during their respective eras in the NBA.
When Shaq was on the Lakers the league was filled with amazing true centers. You didn’t win unless you could score in the paint.
These current Lakers are simply too old to keep up, and their star of the future in Dwight Howard has never displayed the leadership that Kobe has in his career.
Not to mention, that three-peat Laker team was coached by arguably the greatest coach in history in Phil Jackson. So it totally made sense to not hire him back (sarcasm intended).
The bottom line is that in today’s sports world, we believe that if we put all the big names on the same team, they all of the sudden are the favorites to win 10 championships in a row.
That’s what the Heat did right? Wrong.
The Heat are only as strong as their role players and their bench. And they are super strong on both counts. That’s why they will win multiple titles, because they can beat you a number of ways.
Dream Teams aren’t teams with big names on them (um, The Eagles anybody?), they are the teams who know who they are, and put the right pieces in place to carry out their vision.
Friends, don’t let the allure of big names trick you into thinking it will all work out. It takes the right players in the right system with the right coach.
In sports, context is everything. It’s a shame LA completely ignored all the signs.