LeBron, Anthony still the faves

LEBRON JAMES and the Los Angeles Lakers are favorites to win the NBA title again.

It seems like just yesterday the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat and won another NBA title, the 17th for the franchise. And now, starting this week, the pro basketball season is firing up again after the shortest off-season since Henry VIII took his third wife.

The Lakers, who won all four of their pre-season games, will open up the new campaign at Staples Center today (Tuesday) against their cross-town rivals, the Clippers. It’ll be on TNT, but you can’t buy a ticket to see the game in person because … well, you know why.

Getting LeBron James made the Lakers an instant contender, but adding Anthony Davis to the mix made them instant favorites for championships. But they are not a two-man team and not the same roster as last year. Marc Gasol will be a formidable force in the middle, and the addition of Montrezel Harrell, Dennis Schroeder and Wesley Mathews will mean the team will have the deepest bench in the league. And that’s not forgetting Kyle Kumza, who scored 12.8 points a game last season, mostly in a reserve role.

All of this talent will allow coach Frank Vogel to better tailor his lineup to the opponent and give his senior star (James) some time off to rest his 35-year-old knees. He’s still playing at a very high level, but nature and time cannot be denied forever.

As for the Los Angeles Clippers, that organization, and many of its fans, are tired of being in the shadow of the folks in royal blue and gold.  They are tenants at Staples Center and have plans to build an arena of their own in Inglewood. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and their injection of new talent such as Luke Kennard, the Clips will be a worthy opponent, but they also have the misfortune of sharing a division and a conference with a team that is a dynasty. That’s tough to beat.

As for the rest of the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets look to be the class of the Eastern Conference, but we’re hoping it might be the Miami Heat again just for the chance to see Jimmy Butler play at the highest level again.

Sports Monday is … during Christmas week … on Tuesday.

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