HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We already know that Dwight Howard won’t be ready for the start of his first training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers, his rehabilitation and recovery from spinal surgery shoving back his official start date to the season. And there is no doubt there will be a transition period for the Lakers’ newest acquisitions, namely Howard and two-time MVP Steve Nash, who have to adjust to playing with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
If Lakers coach Mike Brown can get his players to mesh the way some insiders hope he can (and the way Nash and Howard have in the video, above) then the rest of the Western Conference and the entire league could be in serious trouble this season.
But it’s that chemistry that will most certainly make the difference between the Lakers winning big and just winning the way they have the past two seasons, reasonably successful regular season campaigns that ended rather abruptly in the playoffs at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively.
It should be noted that both the Mavericks (2011 champs) and Thunder (lost to the Heat in The Finals) went on to represent the Western Conference in the final round of the Larry O’Brien chase.
It should also be noted that the questions about the Lakers’ chemistry aren’t just coming from us.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban raised the same issue last week to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon, citing the same item from the Lakers’ recent past that we did a couple of weeks ago:
“The Lakers have done this before. Gary Payton and Karl Malone and Kobe and Shaq were all together, and it didn’t work,” Cuban said Monday, referring to the 2003-04 Lakers, who lost in the Finals, when introducing his team’s acquisitions to the media and season-ticket holders. “It takes great chemistry. … It takes guys wanting to be there. I don’t know if all their guys want to be there.”
Cuban may have been referring to Howard, who can become a free agent after this season.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Cuban continued. “Look, they’re going to have a great team, but I remember when we made our run, we weren’t supposed to win any series. Remember the Lakers were the defending champs, and we swept them and they had everybody back.
“A lot of teams do a great job of winning the summer, but I never get so antsy about what happens over the summer. I just want to know what happens during the season. As long as we keep on getting better and we’re healthy going into the playoffs, then anything can happen.”
We can all agree that this is a grand experiment, the likes of which only a few franchises have been brave enough to entertain and fund (Boston, Miami …), knowing full well that if they didn’t succeed it would have likely cost a general manager and perhaps even a coach or two their jobs.
That’s another reason why the Lakers’ chemistry this season will be such an intriguing reality show to watch. No one is sure how this plays out. The last time any of the major players involved was a part of this sort of ensemble, as Cuban pointed, it blew up in the face of all involved (for various reasons, sure, but there was a lab fire at the end of the experiment).
Lakers fans, of course, are hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.
We’re all anxious to see the end results, though.
What true fan of the game wouldn’t?