The Los Angeles Lakers are old, but not that old. Methuselah was old, but he couldn’t fill Staples Center. That’s the main thing you have to do to be successful in Los Angeles. Hype up your show enough to get people that aren’t fans to buy into your production.
Hollywood is all about stars. Big names to put on the marquee. The Lakers have the guy that stars in the new Space Jam movie. You’ve got to surround him with co-stars that anyone with a passing interest has heard of.
If you know or live with someone that has Sports Center or Fox Sports on in the background, you’ve at least heard the names of the veteran players the Lakers have picked up by osmosis.
LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony are names that are thrown around various media for the last 15 years at least. Most people that follow sports know who they are.
The players have generated headlines by being quoted on social media for various reasons and they’ve been on reality television. They’re controversial and know how to promote themselves. They get publicity like an outspoken Hollywood starlet or a political pundit that runs their yap with no filter.
The players the Los Angeles Lakers have are like the cast of The Expendables.
The reason they’re with the Lakers is that they are expendable. Russell Westbrook has been on four teams in the last four years. They have moved him more than a military family. Same with Dwight Howard. He’s made more moves than a chess grand champion. Carmelo Anthony has less tread on his tires than a drag slick.
Then there’s the star of the show, LeBron James, who has been the face of the NBA since he came into the league 18 years ago. He’s still great. He would’ve been MVP until human bowling ball Solomon Hill of the Atlanta Hawks rolled over James’s ankle, going after a loose ball.
But the clock is ticking.
James has an inordinate amount of miles on his body. He has the most minutes played in the postseason than any other player in history. James has won 3 Olympic gold medals for basketball. He’s a basketball version of Kratos.
The 1998 Chicago Bulls were also long in the tooth, but they had a run of championships. In ’98, the Bulls were completing their 2nd run of three-peats. They won 3 in a row at the beginning of the 1990s, took 2 years off so Michael Jordan could play baseball, and then regrouped to win three more at the end of the decade.
The desire to win a championship may be the saving grace in a race against Father Time.
LeBron has 4 championship rings. He got Dwight Howard one the last time Howard was a Laker. Westbrook doesn’t have one after 13 seasons. Carmelo Anthony doesn’t have one after 18 seasons in the NBA. Anthony is James’s old buddy.
They rose through the ranks together and got drafted by their respective teams in the same year. This is the first time they’ve been on the same team. It’s Anthony’s last, best shot.
They have leadership, but they still needed more.
The Lakers have surrounded this matrix of wise crafty veterans with a collection of snipers to shoot long-range 3-pointers to spread the floor so that James, Westbrook, and spry young man Anthony Davis, when healthy, can work their magic. Davis has had problems staying healthy.
The hope is that the dogged work ethic of the combination of James and Westbrook will inspire him to come into camp in the best condition of his life. Davis was a standout point guard when he was younger and then underwent a tremendous growth spurt. He grew 8 inches in 18 months.
That must’ve been exhausting. But, he grew into a 6’11” center with point guard abilities.
Another veteran that has returned is Rajon Rondo. This is his second time around with the team. The last time was two seasons ago when the Lakers won their 17th title, tying them with the Boston Celtics for the most NBA championships of all time. That Rondo was once a key member of past Celtics championship runs is icing on the cake.
The team has also added former All-Star center DeAndre Jordan.
The combination of age, desire, and drive should be enough for the Los Angeles Lakers to be the NBA story of the year and end the season with the 18th Larry O’Brien NBA Championship trophy in the team’s storied history. If head coach Frank Vogel, a defensive coach, can coax them to defend like they did last year with different players, the sky’s the limit.