IN THE end, the Los Angeles Lakers proved too much for the Miami Heat. Too talented, too experienced, too big, too tall, too everything.
I won myself a friendly wager of my favorite drink from a fellow lawyer, but I really have no plans of collecting. I mean, the Heat were a 75-1 underdog to even make it to the NBA Finals.
At times, I even found myself cheering for the Heat because they showed heart and lots of cojones in taking the Lakers to a Game 6. I’ve always been a sucker for underdogs.
Jimmy Butler wasn’t even a top 20 player in the league coming into the Finals (now he is certainly top 10.) With Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo getting injured in Game 1, he practically had a bunch of babies with him to go up against the greatest player of this generation and another top 3 player in Anthony Davis plus a bunch of prolific players with championship experience like Danny Green and Rajon Rondo.
But part of me longs to celebrate this victory too, and I know it will be fulfilling to chug down my favorite frothy poison, after it is released from its cold, bottled confines.
LA. As I have written before in a previous column, Lebron James has been a fixture of the Finals for the past decade. Pair with him another top 5 player and the championship is almost a done deal.
James has gotten stronger mentally over the years, and this makes him a better player and a more dangerous opponent. James can read the opposing team’s plays like a coach and can shut down the best player if he chooses to. The problem is that he is not the physical phenom that he used to be, but in some ways, this does not make him inferior.
When Jordan was in his 30s, he began to morph into a jump shooter and this made him even deadlier and more difficult to prepare for. Ditto with James. He picks his spots and his battles night in and night out, but this means he is able to hone in and pinpoint where he is most needed, which makes his team more efficient.
James knows this and knows what kind of players he needs around him. That’s why he had practically the whole young core of the Lakers team last year traded for Anthony Davis.
When Davis arrived, the only potential issue was chemistry. But they had this figured out easily and came out on top of the Western Conference.
The only other team which could have derailed this seemingly- destined championship run was the LA Clippers behind Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
But they failed to comply with their end of the bargain and that’s that.
It seems like the fulcrum that will determine the continued success of the Lakers will be AD. Lebron can’t win again without him and so he will be the cornerstone of this franchise if they hope to win many more championships.
The Lakers have the pedigree for dynasties, and it sure looks like another one is in the making.
LAST ROUND. It’s on Antonio Reina who celebrates this birthday this week. Cheers!