Here we go. Ladies and gentlemen the day is finally here, it is opening night in Lakerland. With the highest expectations upon the shoulders of the defending champions, there is no doubt that this year is repeat or bust. No matter what happens in the following months, there is no doubt that if any team other than Los Angeles lifts the Larry O’Brien trophy in June, it will be considered a disappointment for Lakers Nation. While this set of expectations may not be fair, it is certainly realistic. Many people consider the Lakers better than a year ago, a year where they won the NBA Finals in a mere five games. With the highly publicized addition of Ron Artest and the re-signing of Lamar Odom, the Lakers are locked and loaded heading into the 2009-10 season.
So the first test of the season arrives tonight in the form of Los Angeles’ other team, the Clippers. While many are considering this game a foregone conclusion and an easy Lakers victory, tonight’s game is definitely important for the Lakers to get started on the right foot. For a team to be championship caliber, they must beat the teams they are supposed to beat, and for the Lakers, the Clippers are certainly one of those teams. The score might be even more lopsided now that the numbers one overall draft pick, Blake Griffin, will miss extensive playing time due to a broken kneecap. The Lakers, however, have injury concerns of their own. All-Star forward Pau Gasol may miss the opener and possibly even more time. A lot of the upcoming season will depend on center Andrew Bynum’s ability to avoid health issues as well, as twice in as many years Bynum has missed considerable amounts of time due to damaging knee injuries. The Lakers ability to stay healthy will play a very vital role in their chances at claiming another title.
Looking towards tonight’s game, here are several keys that may help determine the outcome:
- Emotion: Tonight is the championship ring ceremony and the hanging of another banner and is sure to bring plenty of emotion and energy to Staples Center. Will the Lakers be able to ride this energy to a quick, painless victory, or will the Clippers be able to turn it against them and make it harder for the Lakers?
- Ron Artest’s integration: There is no doubt that Artest is the biggest question mark going into the new season, as his volatile past is somewhat alarming for many Lakers fans. It will be interesting to see how Artest is used on both ends of the floor, and how he is able to complement an already established Lakers lineup.
- Is age finally catching up to Kobe Bryant: For years the pundits have said that the high amounts of basketball mileage will catch up to Kobe Bryant, and many of them think that this is the year. Will he finally take a step backwards? And if so, will his supporting cast be able to pick up the slack? While Lakers Nation has followed Bryant for years, it will be interesting to see how he adjusts his game entering his fourteenth NBA season.
Well Lakers Nation we have survived another long, strenuous summer, but we are once again on the verge of what promises to be an electrifying year of Lakers basketball. There are no doubts it will have its ups and its downs, but if there is anything we have learned over the years from our beloved Lakers, the emotional roller coaster is half the fun! So to everybody out there in Lakers Nation, make like U2 and Get on Your Boots, it is once again time for Los Angeles Lakers’ basketball.