The Los Angeles Lakers deserved their series win and their 16th title against the Boston Celtics. They played hard, overcoming an ominous 3-2 deficit, and eked out revenge with their east-coast rivals.
I don’t think the Lakers are done with their winning ways, though. As much as it pains me to say it, the Lakers seem ready to acquire a second threepeat in the span of a decade. Here’s why:
- They aren’t losing any talent. Kobe’s locked up for three years, Pau Gasol’s still around, Ron Artest is still around, and Andrew Bynum will still be around if he’s not dealt for someone even better (e.g., Chris Bosh). They will have the talent for several years to compete for a championship, and I don’t see how another year of regression for any of these players will bring in a decline in performance.
- They didn’t even play their best this year. This season was an interesting one for the Lakers, and even though they finished first, they could have done a lot better. They were merely above average on the road, and it seems like they’re going to improve away from the Staples Center next year. In addtion, they didn’t have Gasol for the whole regular season, and he appears to have drastically improved over the course of the playoffs, so he should be an even stronger post threat in 2010-2011.
- There will be a dilution of talent in the league next year. With all these top free agents available this summer, many of the competing teams this year are going to lose key cogs in their rosters or succumb to other pressures. In the West, Phoenix is likely to be without Amar’e Stoudemire. The Spurs will be another year older. The Mavericks may not not Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Kidd’s effectiveness is waning. Elsewhere, LeBron might join a project team like the Knicks or Nets, Dwyane Wade might be stuck with no one in Miami, and it is doubtful Boston will be able to replicate this year’s effort, especially if Ray Allen dips in free agency.
While it would be nice to see a different team on top next year, the Lakers have to figure as being the favorites going in. They have too much talent and too much a thirst for winning to be considered any less. But if Phil Jackson decides to retire, that could be problematic.