View Full Version : How good are the Lakers?

08-02-2002, 12:16 AM
LA Vs. Bulls
Harp On Hoops: Lakers Gym-Rat Greatness?

By Derek Harper – DallasBasketball.com
Now, that we’ve had a little time to digest the issue. … How good are the Lakers?
If you start with the combination of Shaq and Kobe, you allow them to match up favorably with any team in history. Shaq is without argument the physically strongest player in NBA history, and his brute strength was the singular factor in this latest NBA Finals. Kobe's presence forces otherteams to try to adapt to LA, meaning the Lakers dictate the pace and the matchups.
Some of the old Lakers teams, though, would be right there with them. And some of the old Boston teams, too. But you know which team would have handled these Lakers, winners of three straight titles?
Michael Jordan's Bulls, that's who.
Let's walk through some of the one-on-one battles of some of the great teams.
I think, to start, that Kobe would not have been stopped by the Michael Cooper type players of a previous Lakers era. Listen, I played against Coop. I respect him. But I don't think he could stop a guy like Kobe, who has too many tools, too much strength, too much belief in his ability to go unstopped.
And we haven't even factored in Magic. Who on this Lakers team handles Magic Johnson? Where is the matchup advantage there? So the different editions of Lakers teams would be a battle. Chicago, though, would be a different story.
Kobe is the closest thing to MJ when Michael was in his prime, but having said that, he's not close. Kobe does MJ-like things, but I just don't know if Kobe is ready to take charge every time when the game is on the line like MJ was. MJ played at a level so high that he set up guys like John Paxson and Steve Kerr to be the game-winners. Kobe needs a couple of years to even think about getting to that level.
Chicago, maybe only because Michael Jordan would use his will to make it so, is the best team in the history of basketball.
Another piece of evidence about the mortality of today's brilliant Lakers team: There are teams on LA's heels.
Maybe this is just hindsight, but the Chicago Bulls did not have teams that were near their class. As a comparison, how close to Los Angeles is Sacramento and Dallas?
I say close.
Sacramento played its game, up-and-down, high-scoring, and LA had some problem sticking with that. If Sacramento hits its shots, that style of play leads to an NBA title. Meanwhile, the Mavs roster is dominated by what I think might be a league-high in guys who are gym rats, guys who would play basketball even if they weren't getting paid for it.
Yes, they need to add a defensive mentality. Yes, they need more of a presence inside. But the core is there, and not just because of raw talent. The core is also there because Nash, Dirk, Finley and others are the sort of guys who are married to the sport. They have the passion to get the job done, they go after winning basketball with heart, and they love the game.
Those kinds of guys – Jordan kind of guys -- win championships.

08-02-2002, 08:49 AM
Nice props from Harper...