The defending champions are the biggest obstacle that contenders for the title will find in what will be Phil Jackson’s last coaching season.
Miami Heat has monopolized the media this summer with their ambitious and multi-million-dollar transfers, and in the glare of all the flashes many have been blinded of what is really going on, about who is wearing the championship ring. Los Angeles Lakers might not have done ostentatious incorporations to their roster, but they have something even better than that: a multi-champion coach motivated by the desire of putting an end to his glorious career with what would represent his 12th championship ring as a coach. Phil Jackson is ready to guide Kobe Bryant and company to their third title in a row with only one object in mind: be better than last season.
Paul Gasol might not have the same marketing that LeBron James enjoys, but he got two championship rings and James got none. The Spaniard has adapted very well to the team and has been a great complement for Kobe Bryant. Considered by many as the best European Player in the World, the 30-year-old Center arrival helped the Lakers find their way back to the number one spot, after 6 years of absence.
If there is a weapon that will be vital for the Lakers in the accomplishment of their goal this season, that is none other than experience. With their key players in their early 30s –Bryant 31, Gasol 30, Lamar Odom about to turn 31 as well as Ron Artest, and Derek Fisher 36, being the exception as he is in his mid 30s- the only serious contender to the title that could brag about experience are the Boston Celtics, with the big difference that key players such as Ray Allen (35), Kevin Garnett (34), Paul Pierce (36) are in the epilogue of their careers.
Now let’s take a look at Miami.
This is a team with vast talent that lacks the experience that comes along championship rings. It is true that talent wins games, but we are not so sure that it can win titles by itself. The biggest problem that Coach Pat Riley will have to deal with is the ego of his stars. If things don’t go as expected it could flare up a hostile atmosphere in the locker room.
We don’t have doubts about seeing Miami in the finals of the Eastern Conference, but we do have doubts about Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosch coexistence. One thing is for sure, the experience that they lack will be won this season, and time is on their side, as these stars haven’t even reached their 30s.
Unless an always welcomed surprise arises throughout the season, it seems like the championship will be a matter of three: Lakers, Miami and Celtics. This doesn’t mean there won’t be exciting games, as teams like Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets know how to do their thing, but they still got something missing to be referred to as favorites.