|Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US Presswire|
What a busy summer it's turned out to be for the Los Angeles Lakers.
After being unceremoniously booted from the playoffs by the young Oklahoma City Thunder in a five-game romp, it appeared that the championship window was closing in Laker Land, and more importantly, for Kobe Bryant.
When asked about the Lakers' future after being ousted by Kevin Durant and company in OKC, Bryant had this to say, "I'm not fading into the shadows. I'm not going anywhere. We're not going anywhere. It's not like one of those things where the Bulls beat the Pistons and the Pistons disappear forever. I'm not going for that.
"I'm not the most patient of people, and the organization is not extremely patient, either. We want to win and win now. I'm sure we'll figure it out. We always have, and I'm sure we will again."
The Black Mamba should look into a career in fortune-telling once he's done playing, or better yet, just head to Vegas and dominate in a new "arena."
What an amazing coups the Lakers have pulled off this summer!! Now, we're not going to break down the moves in full detail, but to summarize for those of you keeping score at home, the Lakers landed Steve Nash and Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum, a disgruntled Lamar Odom and a pile of future draft picks.
Lakers' General Manager Mitch Kupchak is a bad man...and I mean that in the most complimentary sense possible. How did the Lakers manage to pull off these earth-shattering trades? Well, that's a question —along with how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop — that the world may never know the answer to.
Seriously, the Lakers should be banned from trading until the end of time and general manager Mitch Kupchak should have his mouth sewn shut to keep the rest of the league from falling prey to his Siren's song and Jedi Mind Tricks; thereby shipping their best players to Hollywood for a bag of magic beans and a pack of I.O.U.'s.
I hope you enjoyed your championship run with your "Big Three", Miami, because while you were off enjoying the fruits of your labor in the lockout-abbreviated season, the Lakers went out and created a "Big Four" to combat and trump your star-studded trio.
More importantly, though, is the fact that the Lakers went out and made monumental upgrades to the the two positions where the Heat are lacking — center and point guard. But before anyone sounds off and calls me a Laker "homer" or "bandwagoner", know this — as a Suns fan, I hate the Lakers; always have, always will.
Nevertheless, that doesn't prevent me from seeing the big picture here. Miami is in trouble. Did they lure Ray Allen — who is widely considered the greatest shooter in the history of the game — to join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh down in South Beach in preparation for their title defense? Sure. Will it be enough? Doubtful.
The Heat's "small ball and drive & kick" tactics may have worked last year, but I can promise you this — there is NO way that they'll have the same success with Pau Gasol and Dwight patrolling the paint for L.A.
And what about the Thunder? We can't forget about them. After all, they're probably the direct reason behind the Lakers' aggressive buyer's stance this summer. Despite the way the stars have aligned in L.A., it's tough to see this young Thunder team led by Russell Westbrook and @KDTrey5 going away anytime soon.
Did the Lakers improve their chances? Absolutely. Will it be enough to reclaim their seat atop the Western Conference throne and then knock off the defending-champion Miami Heat? You have to like their chances on paper, but then again, that's why they play the games.
With the additions of Howard and Nash to Kobe and Gasol, the Lakers are back in the title hunt. All is right in the NBA world again, or at least it is for Lakers fans.
The new NBA season can't get here fast enough.