ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Downfall of a Dynasty
by Kevin Monroe
4/8/05

The L. A. Lakers have fallen so far from grace in just one season.  The team that went to four of the last five NBA Championships, winning three of them, was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this year.  The Lakers equaled the Bulls feat of winning 3 consecutive championships from 2000-2002.  The only team to do so except for the Minneapolis Lakers, Celtics & The Bulls.  The Lakers started their latest dynasty when they drafted an 18-year-old dynamo named Kobe Bryant, and traded for the most dominant center in the game, in Shaquille O’Neal.

It took two full seasons of coming off the bench before Bryant became a regular starter.  Just one season after that, the Lakers were in the 1999-2000 Championship game.  That year was the first of their three championships for the Lakers.  Kobe averaged 22.5 points per game in that season up from 15.4 & 7.6 the two previous years.  His talent was undeniable and the Lakers flourished behind his young leadership.  He was young, hungry, and destined to be the next Michael Jordan.

Shaq was already a dominant force in the NBA for the Orlando Magic before coming to the Lakers in 1996.  Shaq had averaged more than 26 points per game every year in the league except his rookie season when he averaged 23.4 per game.  Shaq was used to playing with a super star in Orlando when he played with Penny Hardaway.  The duo of Penny and Shaq went to the NBA finals in 1994-95 and lost to the Houston Rockets.

After losing to the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 the Lakers acquired Karl Malone, and Gary Payton to play with Kobe and Shaq.  This foursome encompassed a future hall-of-famer at every position, it would seem that Eddie Murphy could have been the 5th starter and that team would have still dominated.   After injuries to Karl, Gary and Shaq in the first half of the season the Dynasty got off to a tough start.  The squad eventually got it together and managed to make it to the NBA Championship Series vs. the Pistons.  After only five games the Pistons emerged victorious and ended Karl and Gary hopes of winning a championship. 

After the season the Lakers got rid of Coach Phil Jackson, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, and Shaquille….yes SHAQ.  The front office decided they would rather build a team around Kobe, than the most dominant center since Jabarr.  Fast-Forward to the present the Lakers are now 33-41 and out of the playoffs.  Shaq and the Heat on the other hand are 59-16 and have clinched a top spot in the East.  Dynasties are hard to come by and the Lakers have dismantled theirs.  This year could be the calm before the storm and the Lakers may come out like a wildfire next year, but for now…..this Dynasty is dead.

Kevin Monroe
kevin@downeastsports.com