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  • Kenneth Cotterill

What The Lakers Title Means To Me

Tonight the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship - their seventeenth in franchise history (twelfth in Los Angeles). LeBron James took home the finals MVP honors and delivered on his promise to bring s title to Los Angeles. For young fans, this might be the first time they get to experience a Lakers title win. For this writer, however, it is my sixth and none has felt more gratifying than this.

The year 2020 has been incredibly tough for many, but my pain as a Lakers fan goes back much further than this year. Now to say that we have experienced true pain as a franchise would just be flat out untrue. Was it tough watching Robert Sacre and Jodie Meeks play significant minutes just a few years ago? Yes. But there are fans of six different franchises that have never even had the experience of watching their team in an NBA finals, let alone winning one. So, what Laker fans fail to realize sometimes is how spoiled we truly are to have experienced what we have in our lifetimes.

When LeBron signed in Los Angeles, part of me was sad at the time. Not because I do not appreciate LeBron's talent, but because I spent so many years rooting against him when Kobe Bryant was still wearing the purple and gold. But over time I got past that resentment and instead grew to love watching him play at Staples Center on television.

One memory I will never forget came this past summer when I was just about to start my own podcast and I got the message notification on my phone. It was from a good friend of mine and all it said was "the Lakers have traded for Anthony Davis" and I was almost in disbelief. Finally the Lakers had a legitimate co-star for LeBron. A player that could truly help him achieve a championship in Los Angeles.

But then I started to have my doubts. Would there be enough pieces around them to get the job done? Did Rajon Rondo have anything left in the tank? Could Dwight Howard put his ego aside to help this team win? Would Kyle Kuzma live up to the hype and be the Lakers third option? And could LeBron and Davis co-exist as a duo, much like James had done with Wade in Miami?

Then the victories started to pile up, with the Lakers jumping out to first in the conference early on. That did not put this fan's mind at ease though, as their opening loss to the Clippers made me wonder if they were even the best team in their city. But as every good fan does, I stood by my team and hoped for the best.

Then January 26th 2020 happened. I could not believe it when "RIP Kobe" came across my Twitter timeline. I figured it was some sort of sick joke. How could my childhood idol be gone so soon? After all the incredible memories he gave me, how could he be gone just like that?

The days that followed were very dark for me. I felt like I was in a haze. I went to bed hoping I would wake up and this would all just be horrible dream. Unfortunately, it was not a dream and I had to get on with my life. It was not long after that the pandemic hit and it seemed like the season would not conclude.

But credit the NBA for all the work they did behind the scenes to make the NBA bubble work. The Lakers struggled early on, but found a way to get on the same page and peak at the right time.

First it was Portland in five games. Then Houston in six. Then the Nuggets in six. And it was all capped off with a six game series win over Lebron's former team, the Miami Heat.

I am happy for many people within the organization for capping off this incredible season by winning their final game. People like Frank Vogel, who many felt was not the right man for the job when hired. He proved everyone wrong. And while he might not get the credit he deserves, no one can take that championship ring away from him.

I am also happy for all of our role players. Guys like Dwight Howard who waited over a decade to finally get that elusive championship. Guys like Rajon Rondo and Danny Green, who both were heavily scrutinized all year for their play, but played a huge role in this title being won. Even guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma - two young players that never got much credit for the roles they played in this run.

But most importantly I am happy for the two centerpieces, Anthony Davis and LeBron James. This is Davis first championship, but it may not be his last. A player whose talent was never questioned, but his commitment to winning was. He finally gets to experience winning in the pros, much like he did under John Calipari at Kentucky in 2012. People may say he played second fiddle to Lebron, but this fan truly views him as the 1B to Lebron's 1A.

Then you have LeBron James, some peoples greatest player of all time and truly one of the most special players I have had the chance to watch. Regardless of where you stand on that debate, what is undeniable is how special Lebron James, both the athlete and person is. He honored the late Kobe Bryant the best way that he could, bringing a championship to the team and city he loved so much.

I will be a Lakers fan until the day I die. If this is the last championship I get to see in my lifetime I will still be a happy man. What the Los Angeles Lakers were able to accomplish during all the tragedy and heartbreak that occurred during the 2019-20 season is amazing. No championship can bring Kobe Bryant back, but it can help the city continue to heal.

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