There’s a reason that the NBA season is considered a marathon instead of a sprint, because it isn’t the team that flies out of the gate that takes first, it’s the team that can turn it on as the finish line approaches.
Guess what, the Lakers are turning it on as the finish line nears.
Since the All-Star break, the Lakers have rattled off 14 out of 15 wins and have reaffirmed to the league, and possibly themselves, that they still have what it takes to win their third straight. The ‘three-peat’ is still a strong possibility for this squad and it’s beginning to look like Head Coach Phil Jackson’s decision to return for another title run was a good one.
"I more than likely would have [retired]," Jackson said when asked what he would have done if the Lakers lost to the Celtics in last seasons Finals. "I think that it was pretty obvious that we capped off a great season, but with winning [another championship], Fish [Derek Fisher] and Kobe would have an opportunity to do something very unique in basketball."
With 11 games remaining and still a six game margin separating the Lakers from the Spurs for the number one seed in the West, it’s unlikely that L.A. will enter the playoffs as the top team by position but as recent play indicates, they may be the team to beat.
"My takeaway from all of that is the rest of the NBA needs to get ready," TNT analyst Chris Webber said. "We always talk about Kobe is old, we talk about everything else. You can talk about the roller coaster this year, but these guys are for real and the NBA needs to take note."
You can’t measure heart and hunger by years and though both Kobe and the Lakers are getting up there in basketball years, they still have plenty of both to give. The NBA would be loathe to write off the Lakers in any given situation come the playoffs.
There’s one other saying that distinctly applies to these Lakers as well; it’s that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That’s pretty true but the thing is, however, that this old dog knows how to win it all already so there isn’t anything new they need to do.
Photo Courtesy of: AP Images