Until the Los Angeles Lakers are dethroned they are still the champions, period. The ’95 Houston Rockets are a prime example of that statement. The defending champions qualified for the playoffs as the sixth seed and went on to win the title over a young Shaquille O’Neal and the Orlando Magic.
It does not matter if the Lakers are the first or the last seed in the playoffs. As long as they have the opportunity to defend their title, it’s theirs to lose. The road to the NBA championship has a better possibility of going through Gaither Gym than it does Sacramento, Dallas or San Antonio.
As good a team as Sacramento is, if the road to last year’s title went through Sacramento, the Kings and not the Lakers would be the current holders. Dallas had a good start to their season but they have been fading as of late, and they still have not proven that they can stop teams with their defense. The Spurs have been hot as of late, winning 27 out of their last 30. But none of that matters come playoff time.
Basketball is the only sport where being the defending champion has little to no merit the next year. Even in the NFL the defending Super Bowl champions are given their respect, no matter how fluke their championship was – see 2001 Patriots and 2000 Ravens.
The Lakers have arguably one of the most dominating one-two punches in the history of the NBA in Kobe Bryant and the O’Neal. Any team looking to dethrone the champs must stop both of them in order to have a chance.
The Kings did the best job of that, and the only road they were on last June was the one to their refrigerators, to watch the Lakers destroy the New Jersey Nets.
Until the Lakers are eliminated from the playoffs, the NBA title and their place in history, is theirs to lose.
-Will Brown, 18, is a freshman broadcast journalism student from Rockledge, Fla. He is one of The Famuan’s assistant sports editors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.