There was a surreal electricity at Staples Center Tuesday and Wednesday Night. an excitement for a special team. A team that if they stay healthy, could make a serious run at becoming the second 70 win team in NBA history. A team with so much to prove.
From before the opening tip-off, you could feel the buzz in the air. The excitement and the anticipation had the fans on the edge of their seat, even before the national anthem was sung. As everyone put on their community promoting yellow opening day shirts on, you could tell that this was much more than a regular season game.
It was sense of redemption for the pain and suffering that was caused by the events in the NBA Finals. Instead of letting the heartbreak mold them, it motivated them, as the Lakers’ defense and all around game, at least through two games, looks better than ever.
It was not against what you would call slouch opponents either. They dismantled a highly talented Portland Trail Blazers. They made it look too easy at times, as it was almost as if the Blazers were a high-school team.
Wednesday nothing changed. On the second night of a back to back the Lakers showed no mercy, as again their defense hounded the Clippers, and held All-Star Baron Davis to 11 points in his much anticipated Clipper debut.
The team has always had players that could defend, and were great at it one on one. The problem was always they could not play team defense consistently. So far this year, it has changed into a great team defense effort, as they are collectively shutting down the opponents. It as almost if they trained the entire off-season with Ben Howland at UCLA, and learned how to play defense the right way.
Kobe Bryant, MVP, captain, the black mamba has even a higher sense of intensity then he has in the past. It is almost as if the Gold Medal in China at the Olympics was just the tip of the iceberg. He wants more, and is leading by example. For the rest of the league, that’s scarier then watching the strangers on Halloween.
Pau Gasol looks comfortable in the power forward role. Vlad “Space Cadet” Radmonivic has shown immense improvement on defense, and provides the starting line up with a long ball threat. Andrew Bynum has anchored the paint on both offense and defense. And Derek Fisher is well, Derek Fisher.
The Lakers bench “mob” has proved to be as good as some teams starting fice. As the bench’s production has been so good to begin with this season, as they have not missed a beat.
Jordan Farmar has been electric of the bench. Trevor Ariza has shown great improvement on his outside shot, and his athleticism and defense has restored a sense of order. Lamar Odom has seemingly embraced his new 6th man role. And that’s just to name a few.
Make no doubt about it, the Championship in no way, shape, or form is won. Not even by a long shot. This is just the first 2 games in October. However, the start to the 2008 season should bring a smile to even the most pessimistic Lakers fan, and bring some stages of fright to rest of the league.
Get ready, this season should be quite and electrifying and entertaining ride that we will not soon ever forget.