Life, economics, politics, psychology, sociology, racism and other isms, law, history, journalism/media…all through the lens of sport.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Champions

Congratulations to the Lakers.

Frankly, I wanted to see Kevin Garnett get a second ring but, hey, that's how it goes, sometimes.

I do believe the Lakers have become the NBA's premiere franchise, even though the Celtics do have more rings. The Lakers have created a culture about them that has helped grow the league, while ensuring they are a championship threat each decade with the biggest names in the game.

I do think that Phil Jackson is a great coach, who has done more than people think. If winning is simply a matter of having great players, why didn't Del Harris win in LA with Shaq and Kobe? Jackson came in and won three in a row. Why hasn't Orlando gotten it done yet with Dwight Howard? Why is former Cleveland coach Brown out of a job altogether?

But I didn't want to have to start listening to all the "is Kobe the greatest?" debates. ESPN is running a poll and currently today's fans put Kobe 3rd all time. Are you kidding me? There is some merit in the "Kobe is the greatest Laker" argument, but I'm not convinced. Kareem has six rings over a 20 year career not to mention a 71 game high school basketball win streak and he is the NBA's all-time leading scorer; Magic lead LA to 5 rings starting with a dominating rookie performance.

Kobe has lead his Lakers to two championships in three tries. When it comes to "the greatest" argument, it's silly how far a reach that is. Bill Russell won 11 championships. Name another player, in any team sport, with that kind of hardware. I've already discussed Kareem, who is still a consideration on this list. And then there's MJ - he never lost a finals series, lead two "different" teams to three-peat championships, and in fact closed out every series in 6 or less games, never being pushed to a game 7. Magic is also a factor in this discussion - yes, he had fellow HoF on his roster, but he lead them, which speaks to how great he was, and those 5 rings are all under his leadership.

On my list, I could put Kobe anywhere from 5th to 8th. Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson and his career triple double, Shaq averaging 38 ppg as a Laker...Hakeem Olajuwon won two as the leader and is arguably the most versatile and quickest big man ever. Then there's Tim Duncan, George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, light on the hardware but a scoring machine who once averaged 50ppg in a season and is alone in scoring 100pts in a game (yes, Kobe got to 81 against the Toronto Raptors, and MJ reached 63 in a playoff game).

Anyway, what's done is done. Congratulations, LA. Now, the question is, will they try for another three-peat? And if they do manage to make it happen, who can argue Phil is anything but the greatest coach in all of NBA history with four three-peats over a 20 year period?

We'll all be watching and waiting for updates on whether they go for it.

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