Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
Whenever a team wins a title in any sport the pressure to repeat as champions the next season can be immense to say the least as everything that teams does throughout the that following season with be criticized and over analyzed to death.
This season the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are in title defense mode once again after they won their 15th NBA title and the fourth title for Kobe Bryant in a Lakers uniform. Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers were considered the best team in the league during the regular season, the eventual NBA champs showed why they were the NBA’s elite team after dominating the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals finishing them off in five games (4-1).
Lakers may have struggled against the Houston Rockets who took them to a full seven games, and against the Denver Nuggets will also gave them a run for their money and six games, but Kobe Bryant and company just have with the to become NBA champions last season and now they will look for their first repeat since Shaq was in town.
This season is very similar to last season as the Los Angeles Lakers are arguably the best team in the Western Conference and the Cleveland Cavaliers on the best record in the league with the second half of the NBA regular season quickly coming to an end. Unlike last season though, the Lakers have had to deal with some nagging injuries to some of their best players in Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum.
Ironically enough though, it wasn’t Andrew Bynum that the Lakers were worried about this time around as he’s been quite injury prone the last two seasons. Instead it was Kobe Bryant and the team had been extremely concerned about throughout this regular season has yet to deal with multiple injuries like a broken finger, back spasms, elbow injuries and most recently with an injured ankle that kept him out almost the entire month of February.
Despite not having to find in the lineup, the defending champs where able to win for the five games they play without Kobe with their one loss coming to the Boston Celtics dramatic fashion as KG and company were able to pull out the one point win after Derek Fisher missed the game-winning shot with only seconds remaining.
This season the Los Angeles Lakers will face stiff competition in the Western Conference once again when playoff time rolls around as or quite few teams and might be able to end the Lakers repeat hopes like the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz and of course the Denver Nuggets.
All three of these teams are much improve the season and have their sights set on upsetting the Lakers will come comes, but the one thing that these teams don’t have is Kobe Bryant. The reigning NBA finals MVP might have some nagging injuries and isn’t as quick as he used to be, but he’s still the best closer in the game and still arguably the best all-around player in the NBA today.