Everyone was quick to count out the Lakers at the start of the season. Despite the fact that they had Anthony Davis, and LeBron James, most were picking the Clippers or Bucks to win the 2020 NBA championship.
The Lakers were my pick from the beginning of the season, which started a year ago (thanks COVID). Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, when the Lakers were coming off of two huge wins against the Clippers, and Bucks. They were heading into the bubble with the death of Kobe still on their minds, even with his death happening six months ago. The Lakers used that to fuel them. They knew in July that the job would not be finished until October, where they hoped to stand as NBA champions.
However, they were once again counted out. Many thought that the hot shooting Trail Blazers could upset the Lakers in the first round. Many thought they were the greatest 8th seed ever.
LeBron, and AD were simply too much for Portland. Then faced the small-ball Rockets, whom many thought could take the Lakers six or seven games, while forgetting that the Rockets did not have anyone to guard Anthony Davis, or LeBron James. The Lakers again beat them in five games. Then came the Denver Nuggets, who had just pulled off two 3-1 comebacks in a row. There was really never a chance for a third. They were gone in five games. The Lakers would go onto the NBA Finals, with the same Mamba Mentality that fueled Kobe Bryant. Despite being pushed by the Heat, the Lakers were able to win in six games, collecting the franchise’s 17th championship.
Many considered the Lakers to be only about LeBron, and AD. However, this is not true. Head coach Frank Vogel was able to make this team buy in on defense.
They had one of the best defenses in the league. Players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard were able to star in their roles, and play well when the team needed them too.
This team bought in, and had no ego.
Whenever they were counted out, they responded in a big way. You have seen the other so-called contenders like the Clippers, and Bucks fold in the face of adversity. This Lakers team had championship mettle from top to bottom. Their team chemistry, and the fact that they all had one goal fueled them.
This is why they are champions. Now, they can finally sit back, and say: the job is finally finished.
Image: Kim Klement