A mere 48-hours after one of the biggest blockbuster trades in recent NBA history I look back, check, read, comprehend, & read one more time just to make sure that truly all this just happen:
"Dwight Howard just became a Laker?"
"And the Lakers didn't have to trade Pau Gasol as part of a four-team deal?"
The answer to all of these questions is: yes.
If you're thinking that first question is still just another nightmare (fan of any other NBA team that isn't the Lakers) or the best dream loaded up on melatonin you've ever had (Lakers fan) then let me stop you and reassure you that, yes this did actually transpire.
As aforementioned the Lakers don't rebuild, they reload--RELOAD, that is.
Four team deals involving 12 players and five draft picks are very rare in professional sports and only plausible in the NBA it seems; however, even in the NBA they're special. If you didn't have anything against the Lakers, didn't dislike or hate them prior to this you might now because they've officially transformed themselves into the Yankees of basketball. Remember, that old baseball joke in the early to mid 2000s:
Fan#1: "Where's the MLB All-Star game this year?"
Fan#2: "Yankee Stadium."
Well, that joke may be used interchangeably with the Lakers from now on. Even though the Celtics have one more NBA championship (17) than the Lakers (16), in my opinion the Lakers just officially passed them as the "Gold" standard (ironic) in the NBA. Don't be mad at me Boston for 20 seasons there you didn't win anything; do I need to remind you or do I need to remind you?
If Boston's (then) "big three" was able to win the championship in their inaugural season together and the Heat in their second season (strike shortened) why can these Lakers win the NBA championship right away?
Of course, it's worth mentioning that the Lakers much like the Philadelphia 76ers are taking a huge risk betting on a center with only a one-year contract that has an enormous ego and is indecision prone. Bryant/Nash will keep Howard in-check and hopefully for Philly Doug Collins will help Andrew Bynum mature. Once, the other 76ers players accept Bynum as their best option, feed him the ball, and Bynum realizes it's his team he'll end up staying. But we're just going to have to wait and see about all that.
Nevertheless, The Lakers definitely established themselves as the number one threat to Miami's repeat hopes with the Howard deal. In my previous article I said the Lakers are the clear-cut favorite to win the NBA championship this coming season, but upon further review you have to respect the reigning champs and give them that honor. The Heat still have the best basketball player in the world in LeBron James (Congratulations on winning the basketball equivalent of the career Grand Slam: MVP, Finals MVP, & Gold Medal), but a healthy Dwight Howard on the Lakers creates a matchup nightmare one through five that's ridiculous.
Remember, the Lakers upgraded at point guard by picking up Billy Hoyle to play alongside Sidney Dean...
(Sorry, White Men Can't Jump moment.)
It is funny to think that Nash and Kobe parallel these fictional characters. Here's a quick summary if you've never seen the movie: white basketball player vs. black basketball player, compete against one another, talk trash back and forth to one another, dislike each other very much throughout the movie, and then in the end team up for one common goal: to win a tournament! In the movie it was all about street ball and money, but in real life it's all about the playoffs and that ring.
Yeah, Steve Nash is old and can't keep up with the Russell Westbrook's or the Derrick Roses of the world on defense, but your forgetting something--he doesn't have to--that's what Dwight Howard is there for. In addition, watching Pau Gasol in the Olympic final today against the U.S. should make many of his fans/teammates renew their hopes in Gasol again. And may I remind you Kobe Bean Bryant is about the same age as "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" was when he won his last championship (see G.O.A.T: Jordan, Michael Jeffrey.)
Kobe will never be "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" and neither will LeBron.
(Repeat that to yourself: And-Neither-Will-LeBron.)
Jordan is, was, and will be the greatest. Kareem, Drexler, Isiah, Oscar, Pippen, etc can live in denial, hate (ego) all they want, but Jordan's game was evil (And by "evil" I mean divine.) Michael still has former players like Craig Ehlo and Steve Smith waking up in the middle of the night screaming, "The horror! The horror!" reliving all that #23 did to them. And maybe M.J. will have a Heart of Darkness moment about his game when he realizes that he killed so many great players confidence.
BUT, I digress...
However, NBA fans will miss Kobe and LBJ whether they realize that or not. It's going to be a sad day in the league when talent like that isn't around because talent like that only comes around once or twice every decade.
I'm not saying the Heat will lose to the Lakers in the finals. I'm merely making a prediction and picking the Lakers to win the 2013 NBA Championship. How confident am I? Honestly, I'd be more confident if Phil Jackson was still the coach (imagine Phil with this team), but Mike Brown (will channel his best Erik Spoelstra imitation) will ride this "Ferrari" of a team to basketball immortality.