LeBron James’ true significance to Lakers about upping Celtics
Lakers nation is buzzing!
LeBron James is on board and there’s little doubt that the Los Angeles Lakers will be playoff bound once again. There was that strong feeling in me when Magic Johnson said he would resign if not able to bag a major free agent, that he would bring James into the fold.
Magic, the all-world player during his prime and now the President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers, would not have gone out on a limb unless he felt he had a really great situation wrapped up.
James signed with the Lakers for $154 million over four years and team supporters all over the world are thinking about going deep into the playoffs, perhaps knocking off the Golden State Warriors in the process to come out of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Western Conference, and taking on successfully whoever comes out of the East.
For me, the LeBron-Lakers connection is not as much about short-term achievements. I see this unity as a great opportunity for the Lakers to finally upend the Boston Celtics in the championships rivalry. So far, lost in the hype about the big LeBron-Lakers news is the 17-16 score. The Celtics have 17 NBA Championships and the Lakers 16. Twice during the Lakers’ last run at glory, the Kobe Bryant teams clashed with the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce/Ray Allen Celtics, and split, leaving the 17-16, one-series edge and superior championships legacy intact for the Celtics.
Let’s go back in history all the way to the 1940s when big George Mikan led the Minneapolis Lakers to the franchise’s first five NBA titles as the Basketball Association of America (BAA) evolved into the National Basketball Association.
In 1957, Bill Russell was drafted by the Celtics and an NBA domination, as never before or again, began. In Russell’s 13 seasons as a player, the Celtics won 11 championships. Then came the added title touches to the legacy, orchestrated by members such as Jo Jo White, Dave Cowens, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish. More recently, Garnett and company moved the title total to 17.
As for the Lakers, after big George’s run, the Lakers emerged again as champions with Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West leading the way; then came five more titles with Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and company; three with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant; and finally two more and the 16th crown with Kobe.
Now, it’s the LeBron James era in L.A. and the table is set for a continuation of the Celtics/Lakers championship rivalry. The Celtics are one of the powers of the East and could very well survive the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers next season.
It is not far-fetched to favor the Lakers, led by LeBron coming out of the West. If not this coming season, that scenario figures to happen before he retires.
Will he endear himself to Laker land by moving the championship numbers beyond that of the Celtics?
If he does, there would be a statue of him mounted one day in the future at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Yes indeed, the Lakers now have a great opportunity to go one, or two-up on the Celtics in their rivalry.
Let’s see what the future holds.
NOTE: Fred Sturrup is currently out of the country, and during this time, The Nassau Guardian Sports Section will run a few of his Sports Scope columns from the past. Sturrup’s regular columns will resume on September 4.
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