By: Netani Shields  | 

The Lakers’ Challenges to Narratives

By now every sports enthusiast has probably consumed an ungodly amount of media related to the recent, spectacular NBA playoffs and the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory. I would even go so far as to say that folks are probably getting weary of hearing about the gold and purple championship. 

Well, get excited, cause here’s another piece!

In my view, this recent Finals series spades far deeper than many of the summarizing tropes in circulation. Many analyses of the last six games of the season are true: small-ball was exposed; Anthony Davis is the most impactful and versatile defender in the league; “Playoff Rondo”; the list can go on forever. The most important takeaway to be had, however, is that the Lakers perfectly embodied what it means to stand in the face of negative portrayals and completely disregard them. 

Preceding the most tumultuous year in NBA history, the players employed by the League’s most storied franchise faced tremendous amounts of collective deflating press. The Lakers were predicted to have a phenomenal season — after all, they had Lebron — but one which Colin Cowherd, among others, declared would not result in a championship. The team had just come off of a mediocre 37-45 record, and the Western Conference, mainly the L.A. Clippers, was just too stacked. The addition of a top ten player in Anthony Davis would certainly help, but the venture wouldn’t end in a parade. The team was simply one piece from glory, and until it procured a proper third fiddle for James and Davis, the title was out of reach. 

Many of the team’s players had been immaturely categorized by the basketball community, which assumed a recency bias regarding the limitations of said players. Dwight Howard, for example, was determined to be too old, too paint-centric and too much of a locker room cancer to be any help for the aspiring team. Rajon Rondo seemed to share similar characteristics, in addition to having an obsession with dribbling out the play-clock until he could pass the bad shot off to a teammate. No one considered that leadership from the King could force the players around him to maximize their impact by specializing their roles. 

After all, swallowing pride and facing criticism was nothing new for Lebron. He has been criticized heavily for many myriads of reasons over the two decades the world has known him, sometimes legitimately and oftentimes wrongfully. And as Lebron’s game has matured, his attitude regarding people’s perception of him has as well. He approaches the game the way he wants to and his media presentations are often regarding details much more significant than stuffing the pumpkin into the net. 

Anthony Davis too had to answer some tough questions. He was obviously a remarkable talent, but his team had missed the Postseason for five out of the seven years that he had been operating as lieutenant. Would he be able to extend his impact to the levels of a Kevin Mcale, or was his destiny to be this generation’s Charles Barkley? 

Following a three month hiatus of the season, the NBA continued the season in limited capacity, wherein the Los Angeles Lakers again were faced with jabs from the media. In an article for USA Today, the team was branded as a “loser” of the Bubble seeding games by Scott Gleason. At the time, it was indeed a fair criticism because losing the majority of any set of games, no matter how insignificant they were, was not the kind of production typically demanded of an organization that could win a ring. They would quickly dispel the notion that they were not ready for a championship run. 

The team from L.A. was presumably aware of all of the different tropes uttered regarding them, they just didn’t care. Their playoff supremacy was remarkable to see. They decimated the Trail Blazers. They eviscerated the Rockets. They steamrolled the Nuggets. And they handily beat the Miami Heat. All season long there was always a negative comment to be addressed to the Lakers, yet the team’s absolutely phenomenal outing gave them the final say on their legacy.

Photo Caption: Los Angeles Lakers Logo
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons