The ’80s were Showtime. The 2000’s were Lake Show. Both were winners. What will the 2019-20 Lakers be?
When you consider the Los Angeles Lakers most fans have no trouble conjuring up an image. For some its the Kobe lob to Shaq for an enthusiastic dunk against the Portland Trailblazers. For others it might be Derek Fishers shot with .04 seconds left or Robert Horry’s shot that went through the net with even less time than that.
So many memories.
For others that are, shall we say, a bit more seasoned, the Lakers mean Showtime. Arguably the best team ever assembled and a team every Lakers team since them has tried to emulate. Those fans think about Magic’s no look pass, Kareem’s sky-hook, Jamal Wilkes 20-foot layup or maybe Michael Coopers Coop-a-Loop slam dunk.
Regardless of which team you recall when you think Lakers, fans remember a winner!
Both the teams from the 80’s and 2000’s won Championships. In fact, they won 10! Los Angeles fans are notoriously fickle. Magic Johnson himself scolded them for not being more engaged back when the team played at the Fabulous Forum. What Magic came to understand is that LA will get behind their team… when they win. So Magic’s teams won and the Forum was rocking!
Showtime was born out of that winning and the energy that the fans added to it.
Kobe & Shaq’s, then later Kobe & Pau Gasol’s teams were different. They still won, there was still excitement, but there was no flash. The teams of the 2000’s were winners, but they weren’t Showtime. It didn’t matter though because they were winners. It was most likely somewhere in the mid 2000’s when the Lakers had won so much that their fans both came to expect it and the team had built up enough goodwill in them to keep them engaged through the down years.
That goodwill however is winding down.
The Lakers last playoff appearance was in the 2012-13 season. They lost in the 1st round. It’s been nothing but uninspired basketball since then. The 2019 off-season saw the Lakers go all-in. They traded away promising young players of the present and the possibility of others in the future in the form of draft picks for at least one season of Anthony Davis. The pairing of Davis and LeBron James is a duo that at least on paper is a match for some of the Lakers greats of the past mentioned here earlier.
But, will this duo win?
Remember that LA loves a winner. Remember also that the goodwill the Lakers built up over decades of excellence is running dry. The Lakers need a return to prominence and the franchise knows it. Will AD and LBJ bring back Showtime? No. That era is likely to never be duplicated. If you were lucky enough to lived through it, consider yourself very fortunate! Will they be the less dynamic but equally successful Lake Show teams led by Kobe Bryant? That is a much more reasonable goal.
Whatever the makeup of the 2019-20 Lakers are doesn’t matter as much as the results. The team is going to have to find its Robery Horry, Derek Fisher and Michael Cooper. As great as the All Stars are, no team has ever hoisted the Larry O’Brien without contributions from everyone. Will Quinn Cook hit a big shot to win a series? Will Danny Green make a game saving block? Will Troy Daniels join the list of Lakers immortals with a last second swish with 0.0 showing on the clock?
One or all of those things have to happen for the Lakers to return to Championship contention in 2019-20. The Showtime Lakers were about dominance with a smile and pizzazz. The Lake Show teams were a methodical, plodding machine that wore down teams and had an assassin to close out games as needed. The 2019-20 team is still a work in progress but if they hope to reach the same heights as those two Lakers great teams of the past they have to find their identity. They have to find their supporting cast. But most importantly, they have to win!
The stage is set. The stakes are high. Greatness awaits.
Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!