Los Angeles Lakers are the big favorites to revalidate the NBA ring in the season that starts on Tuesday and become the most winning team in history, for which they will need the best version of LeBron James, about to turn 36 years old .
Only 71 days separate the conquest of the 17th Lakers title in the Finals against the Miami Heat, with which they tied the Boston Celtics record, from the 2020/21 season opener against their neighbors, the Clippers.
In this period of just over two months, the shortest in the history between seasons, the Los Angeles franchise has had to recover from a grueling 2020 in which it faced the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, a long hiatus of games due to the coronavirus, protests against racism and isolation of three months during the playoffs in the headquarters “bubble” of Disney World (Orlando).
In a campaign that is predicted to be unpredictable due to the effects of the pandemic, the Lakers have the leadership advantage offered by LeBron, the player with the magic recipe to reach the finals, who has only lost a year in the last decade.
The Lakers have further strengthened their squad so that their star, who will turn 36 on December 30, can reach the playoffs in his best form, which will start on May 22 and end a few days before the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo (July 23 – August 8), another quote that ‘King’ James had underlined in red.
– Breaks in sight? –
“We will have to do a balancing act throughout the season,” advanced Los Angeles general manager Rob Pelinka. “We will have to determine what is best for LeBron, for his health, for the team, for the league. We will have to be as careful as we can.”
James himself, who is not among the stars who regularly miss games, has acknowledged that he was surprised by the short rest period.
We’ll have to be “as smart as we can to make sure I’m ready” to play, said the forward, who will chase the fifth ring of his career and the second with the Lakers.
For its part, the NBA, concerned about the impact on the audiences of the star break, has been more flexible this season. Players who have played a significant role in past playoffs will be able to avoid back-to-back games as long as it is not in games broadcast nationally, in which any absence of a healthy player will carry a fine of at least $ 100,000.
– “Be humble” –
The Lakers face the campaign with the tranquility of having renewed James until 2023 (for 85 million dollars) and his other figure, center Anthony Davis, until 2025 (190 million), both members of the best quintet of last season.
Around their stellar duo, the Los Angeles team has been one of the best-performing in the latest transfer market, acquiring the services of veteran Spanish center Marc Gasol (Toronto), German point guard Dennis Schröder (Oklahoma City), guard Wesley Matthews (Milwaukee) and power forward Montrezl Harrell, who were snatched from the Clippers after being recognized as the Best Sixth Man of last season.
These hires more than make up for the marches of veterans Dwight Howard and Danny Green to Philadelphia, JaVale McGee to Cleveland, Rajon Rondo to Atlanta and Avery Bradley to Miami.
With so many changes in the squad, the great challenge for the Lakers is to generate the necessary cohesion and chemistry on the court during the little preparation time they have had for the season, in which they know that everyone considers them the rival to beat .
“We will have to keep our mentality and be humble. Not think too much about what we did last season,” James acknowledged. “Eyes will be on us even more, if that’s possible. We know they’re waiting for us. But we just have to worry about what we’re going to do. It’s the best way to win another title.”
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.