After the heart-breaking last minute loss to the Detroit Pistons Thursday night, Los Angeles Laker fans were sitting on pins and needles, wondering if the team was on the verge of another mid-season collaspe like the one that sent them into a tailspin a year ago.
Injuries had decimated a strong contender for the Western Conference championship that had gone 2-5 since Andrew Bynum went down.
Kwame Brown had shown no signs of stepping up in the absence of the young phenom, Lamar Odom continued to prove that he lacks the intelligence and skills that will transform him into an All-Star player, and even though he didn't want to admit it, Kobe Bryant was once again growing increasingly frustrated with the underachieving performance of his team.
It seems that just a few weeks ago, the talk of the NBA was about the Lakers and how they looked to be serious threats to dethrone the San Antonio Spurs as league champions, but that talk seemed to fade when Bynum dislocated his knee against the Memphis Grizzlies.
My, my, how funny it is that the Lakers' championship hopes seems to rest on a Grizzlies' team that has been a perennial lottery team, except for a few playoff seasons.
Now, with the addition of Pau Gasol via a trade for Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton, the Lakers' season is saved from the impending doom in which it was headed.
In his biggest play of his life, Mitch Kupchak his come through in the clutch in a major way, and despite the moniker that he was given after trading players such as Shaq and Caron Butler away for what seemed to be peanuts, Kupchak is no longer considered to be a "Kupcake."
Getting an All-Star player in Gasol for basically nothing makes Kupchak look like Jerry West, the man known as "Mr. Clutch."
Laker fans could now look forward to their team playing well into May for years to come.
Not only have the Lakers gotten a solid big man who can score and rebound on a consistent basis, they have gotten themselves a virtually unstoppable two-headed monster in the front court when Bynum gets healthy.
Most teams are fortunate to have one good center on the roster, but the Lakers now have two potential All-Star big men playing on the same team.
Although Boston may have the best record in the NBA, the Lakers have served notice to the rest of the league that they are going to be a major force to reckon with late in the season.
Posted by Rob Base at 1:38 PM . Friday, February 1, 2008