I absolutely love the Los Angeles Lakers. Some of the best memories I have growing up are of watching them. Watching Kobe and Shaq play together was something I will always remember. I guess I didn't realize what I had until Shaq was gone, and all of a sudden, so were the championships. I was thinking a lot about what's been wrong since then. What has stopped the Lakers from winning another title? I mean, they were close last year, but ultimately flopped in the finals. My feeling is that it comes back to urgency.
Watching those Lakers, there was something about them that these Lakers have lacked for the most part. The Kobe/Shaq Lakers played every game like it meant something. Watching every game of the playoffs was like watching a game 7 of the finals. Kobe was hungry, Shaq was hungry, and it showed. Remember the Kobe/Shaq alley oop that took down Portland? The Lakers were hungry then because they knew that they were talented, but that other teams actually had a chance against them. Because other teams could realistically hope to beat them, the Lakers played hard, they played with heart, and they played with urgency.These Lakers have more talent than any other team in the league. Hands down. Who else has a player like Lamar Odom coming off the bench? Most teams don't have starters with as much talent as Odom. However, Odom has the unfortunate habit of not really showing up to games that really matter. He's shown flashes these playoffs and I'm hoping that it carries into the finals. If last year's finals was any indication though, things aren't looking good.
So what do the Lakers need? They need to find that urgency again. When they've played with it during the playoffs, no other team has had a chance. The Lakers have won every single game that they "had to" (see games 5 and 7 of the Houston series and game 5 of the Denver series). But in games where they don't face elimination or good odds of elimination, they decide not to care and lose. What gave me the most hope is when the Lakers won game 6 of the Denver series. I didn't think there was any way they were taking that one, based on how they have played in every other game they didn't have to win. But they did, and now my hopes are high for the finals. Looking at the matchups, the Lakers should take it easily. But wasn't the same the case against the Celtics? Sorry Boston, but the Lakers had the better team last year. The problem is they didn't play like it. If the Lakers can play the way they're capable of, I will be celebrating another championship shortly after game 4. If they don't, it will be another long summer of hoping they wake up and find the urgency again.