The Lakers took home the NBA’s 17th championship title earlier this month after a challenging and truly unforgettable season. The finals ended with a dramatic 106 – 93 victory over Miami Heat in unprecedented circumstances with an arena entirely empty of spectators.
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This incredible victory could not have happened without star player LeBron James, who was made MVP for the fourth time in his career. It was his tenth appearance in the NBA finals and his fourth championship win. The player averaged 29.8 points, 8.5 assists and a 59 percentage for shooting from the field across the season. He has been highly praised for his strong leadership, effective strategy and ability to withstand the difficulties faced this season.
It’s been a difficult season for the Lakers’ team…
The 2019 – 2020 NBA has not been without its drama, which began all the way back in the preseason. During a trip to China to play two games against the Nets, headlines were made when Houston Rockets’ manager Daryl Morey posted on social media in support of Hong Kong protests, causing upset with the local government. LeBron James was criticised for his remarks regarding the incident and the team found themselves trapped in their hotel.
Tragedy then struck when basketball legend and recent retiree Kobe Byrant and his daughter were among those who died in a helicopter crash. This hit the team hard as they grieved for Byrant, a talented basketball player with a 20-year history at the Lakers.
Their championship win meant even more to them in the wake of this disaster, they played in his memory and ensured his legacy will continue to live on. In several of the playoff games the players were seen to be wearing ‘Black Mamba’ jerseys, a fitting tribute to Kobe who was known by this nickname.
Shortly after, the season was then put on hold for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Protests against racial injustice then swept the country, with players joining in with the Black Lives Matters movement. Before each game the players took the knee and, in the finals, wore jerseys with BLM logos emblazoned on them, including phrases such as ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘say their names’.
Even when playoffs resumed, the game looked entirely different. Strict social distancing rules have been in place for players, meaning the team have spent the last 90 days isolated at a designated space at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Having spectators in the stands was also banned and large screens were erected to livestream fans’ reactions from home. While staying away from their families was extremely difficult, the team managed to avoid any covid-19 infections through maintaining quarantine right up until the final game.
Despite these unprecedented events and challenges, the Lakers played an incredible season…
Bookies are already giving favourable odds to the Lakers for the next NBA season, which can be explored in this list of Pennsylvania sportsbooks.
But, how did they manage to pull it off?
Well, part of what makes the Lakers so strong is the bonds that are shared between teammates. Just one incident that fans will recall took place in Game 5. There was a tense moment when Davis landed badly on his right heel, in what at the time looked like a devastating injury to his achilles tendon. In that moment, as LeBron and the entire team rushed to check on the player, the camaraderie between Davis and James was evident. Thankfully Davis was able to play on. The two star players have played the entire season in sync, even when injured Davis pushed on and continued to at least defend, not wanting to let his partner down this close to the championship final.
Besides the LeBron and Davis partnership, the adding of Markieff Morris gave the team the boost they needed.
The amount of 3 – point shots attempted in the playoffs and postseason wasn’t actually as impressive as fans may expect. The Lakers made just 12 3 – pointers in the post-season, meaning that they ranked 12th out of the 16 teams in play.
While the number of 3 – pointers scored is generally seen as an indicator for a good offense in the NBAs, the Lakers have proven the value of a good defense this season. They have shown that the ability to defend well is just as important as having talented shooters in the line-up.
The Lakers scored 22 points each game in transition in the postseason. They also ranked third in transition points per possession postseason. This was a big improvement on their regular season numbers.
It is clear that the Lakers were not fazed by the difficult events that transpired this season, both within the NBA and on a national level. They were spurred on by their grief for Lakers’ legend Kobe Bryant and defiant in their stance on racial injustice. Rather than giving in to the difficult circumstances brought on by covid-19, they stayed strong and channelled everything they had into securing the championship win. This team has proven the real value in team bonding and maintaining a strong defense.