New York Yankees. Green Bay Packers. Los Angeles Lakers.
When you think of major sports dynasties, these teams come to mind. Sure, the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics and a few other teams might enter the conversation, but the three above have been winning titles before most of us were even born; some before our parents were born.
The Lakers – as you know if you watched the game or heard the fireworks in your neighborhood – won their 17th NBA championship on Sunday, defeating the game but overmatched Miami Heat 106-93 in the “bubble” in Orlando, Florida. They took four of six from their opponents and are now tied with the aforementioned Celtics for the lead in most league titles.
Considering the way that American NBA stars dominated the international competitions such as the Olympics, the Lakers now are fairly considered to be the best basketball team, not just in the nation, but the world.
There is a lot to admire in this accomplishment. LeBron James, who averaged 29.8 points in the series, made a pretty good argument for being the best player in NBA history, although Michael Jordan fans will make a strong dissent.
“Thinking I have something to prove fuels me,” said James.
Anthony Davis came to town with the goal of pushing this Laker team from good to great, and he may end up pushing them to more than one title.
Frank Vogel, the Lakers’ head coach, is one of the unsung heroes of this triumph. Not exactly a household name, he had been fired from coaching stints with the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic. He has posted three losing records in his last four seasons, so who would imagine this would be the proper helmsman for this high-octane mix of above-the-rim magicians?
Luckily for Vogel, the team bought into the concept of playing not just for ESPN Sports Center highlight slams, but also solid defense. Speaking of their Game Six performance, he said, “I’m just super proud of our guys. We were all over the place. We executed our coverages perfectly and did it with energy and passion.”
The series also had the bonus value of introducing to the wider sports world a new superstar, Jimmy Butler of the Heat. He bedeviled the Lakers, although the Lakers were able to finally throw a blanket over him, holding him to just 12 points on Sunday.
Final honors must go to the NBA itself, which – finding itself in the midst of the unprecedented coronavirus crisis – figured out a way to re-start an interrupted season and safely bring it all to a satisfying conclusion.
Well, maybe not satisfying enough. The Lakers are the odds-on favorites to repeat next year and make it 18 titles. And who knows? Playing this way and with this talent, maybe a number 19 or 20 isn’t beyond the abilities of LeBron and Anthony and Frank and the whole purple-and-gold crew.
“Wild World of Sports” appears on Mondays.