Sometimes You’re Just Better Than Everyone Else

Yahoo! Sports

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans on their 15th (!) championship.

The only way the Lakers could atone for their atrocious play in the semifinals was to come out and absolutely blast a very good Magic team. And they did it. They showcased everything you would need to make the argument that this was a great team. Pau Gasol playing terrific defense and hitting shots only he and Dirk can hit. Kobe hitting shots only he and Voltron can hit. Fisher playing the part of the savvy veteran hitting big shots. Ariza being pure energy. And Odom, always Odom, putting it together and playing to and beyond his athletic potential, just playing fantastic basketball.

The Orlando Magic were not frauds, wimps, or shellshocked. They were not shocked by being in the Finals. They were not unprepared, starry-eyed, or overwhelemed. SVG was not outcoached. The Lakers were just the better team. Why must we trash one team who made it to the freaking Finals in order to congratulate the best team? The Lakers were great, as they have been all season. And they were better in this series. Nuff said.

i picked the Magic in seven becasue my heart ran away with my head, and I feel like picking the Lakers was too easy. I hate easy picks. But it would have been the right pick. Not just because they’re now the champs, but becasue I knew they were the best team. I was never convinced, even by Cleveland’s late run, that any team but the Lakers deserved the mantle of “best.”

The Lakers started this season dominating everyone. They then went and destroyed Boston and Cleveland. They took down every challenger, weathered losing Bynum again, and still killed everyone but Charlotte. The Lakers were the best team in the NBA this season, becasuse they are talented, athletic, tall, and, for longer periods than not, focused. And all those things equate why they’re a great team.

Congratulations, Laker Nation. You can crow about your franchise being the best again, and it has all the weight it needs, fifteen times over.

UPDATE: Since Yams pointed out I buried the Lakers last year, it’s only right that I trash the Magic, even though I don’t feel like there was much else they could do outside of a handful of plays to beat this team. I was wrong last year about LA. There was no shame in what they did. There wasn’t a team in the world that was going to stop Boston last year, just as nothing was going to stop LA. But let’s talk about the Magic for a moment.

  • The big question is whether to re-sign Hedo or not. Otis Smith has made noise that they plan on doing just that, and that they’re willing to go into luxury-tax-land for it. But I’m not so certain that’s what this team needs. They need more balance, and a semblance of a traditional lineup. Lewis needs to play as an oversized 3. Turkoglu’s not quick enough to play a traditional 2 role. And they need a rebound and clean-up player (Brandon Bass). Their size should be an advantage for them, but LA murdered them on the boards. And that’s not talent on the Lakers end. That’s drive.
  • SVG deserves as much blame as anyone on the Magic, even though the Master of Panic stuff is ridiculous (they made the freaking Finals!).  He didn’t have his team ready in the closing moments of games, consistently overreacted to elements and adjustments, and most importantly, abandoned the thing that got him here, shutting down support players.
  • Howard’s not there yet.I don’t think he needs to be, because of his age, but he isn’t.
  • Welcome back to earth, Mikael Pietrus. Hope you like the atmosphere while you were up there.
  • There was a point in time when I really thought that Rashard Lewis could give the Magic more than 25 a night consistently if called upon. That was not smart.

Also, just to respond to something else asked in the comments, I think Trevor Ariza is a perfect example of a great Laker player. That is, the guy’s not going to be a star on many other teams, but in the triangle, told to do specific things and fill certain roles, like nailing spot up threes, he was terrific this year. The guy’s no bust. He works his ass off on both ends of the floorand while he can be a little reckless, you need some of that if you want to win a title. That dude’s getting PAID. He and Rick Fox should go bowling together.

And as KD pointed out over at BDL, Pau Gasol has forever shed the soft label. You don’t have to be emphatic if you’re really, really, really freaking good.

Hindsight’s 20-20,and right now, this Lakers team looks better by the minute. Championship shine will do that to you.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.