It’s not Magic or Kareem or Coop or Worthy, but to millions of Los Angeles residents who are struggling with escalating gasoline prices, daily traffic congestion and more importantly dwindling financial resources, the Lakers have provided us with a reason to cheer again.
It took for us to get beyond our resentment of the fabled franchise trading away the popular Shaquille O’Neal and enduring one first round playoff disaster after another, but for the first time since 2004.
For any other professional sports team to not be playing for a conference or divisional championship it may be alright, but for the die-hard Lakers fans it was a drought that could not have dried up soon enough.
Give props to the Lakers for bringing Black and Browns together for some common goal and reviving the dreaded t-shirt business alongside Crenshaw Blvd.
Never mind that the silk screening on those shirts will not last beyond the first or second washes in the machine or that they maybe a bit over priced at $20 per pop, for most Lakers fans this is as close as they will ever get to their beloved basketball team.
It allows for them to be connected to Kobe, their comeback kid, and the rest of the team that is one giant step from reaching the NBA finals.
Now come this tough test. The Lakers will now have to face the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals which began this week and what they will discover is that while beating the hapless Nuggets in four games and soothing the Jazz in six is nothing compared to facing Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and old friend Robert Horry.
Remember .04 and Derek Fisher’s Hail Marry shot beat the Spurs in that crucial playoff game is a distant memory now.
What will matter to these Lakers fans is how Fish handles Parker, how Pau Gasol defends and scores against the rock solid Duncan, and how efficient Kobe is at being lethal throughout this series.
What will matter now is how Phil Jackson makes adjustments on the fly and if Lamar Odom can continue his splendid play that will make him the most attractive free agent on the market following this season.
A lot of questions and their answers will come on Friday May 23 at Staples Center and for as long as this series lasts, but in the meantime the Lakers’ fans will not have their voices silenced by anyone.