For years the City of Angels has devoted itself to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe and company consistently finish at the top of the NBA as the franchise is synonymous with sixteen championship banners (four of those while in Minneapolis). However, LA fans turned to hockey in May/June this year when Dean Lombardi’s vision blossomed into reality and 44 years of frustration came to an end. The Kings became the only eighth seed in NHL history to topple the first, second and third ranked teams in the Western Conference en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. Has the reign of a new king in Hollywood – we’re not talking Lebron James here – ignited an Olympic-sized flame beneath Lakers’ management to reload and regain the form of a championship contender?
Furthermore, is it a coincidence that the Lakers have made two of the most significant trades in recent memory a few weeks after an LA Kings championship parade which drew around 250,000 people to the streets of downtown and LA Live? The answer is who really knows, but it is my feeling that the Kings have jolted the LA sports world for the better. Recently acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash is a phenomenal tandem that along with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol has the potential to make many team defenses look foolish. With Nash and Howard aboard, Los Angeles is the new home of the NBA leaders in points, assists, rebounds, free-throw percentage and blocks over the past seven years. The sign-and-trade deal for Nash and the exchange of Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard parallel how the Kings traded young guns Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn for Mike Richards and traded for Jeff Carter. As one of the best centers in the league, Richards is a playmaker with the ability to turn an inconsistent sniper into a proven goal scorer. Nash, much like Richards, has a flair for creating space in the offensive zone for himself and other teammates. Howard and Carter are both high-scoring threats that will benefit from the facilitating presence of Nash and Richards respectively.
The Lakers and Kings share a residency at Staples Center much like roommates share a dorm room in college. At this college the Kings are the studious computer science nerds and the Lakers are the popular frat bros. Because the teams share the same arena and a common fan base (most Kings fans are Lakers fans and vice versa) one can’t help but think there is some friendly competition between the two Staples Center roommates. After all, friendly competition is healthy and can contribute to elevating performances both on and off the playing surface. On one hand the Lakers are usually blinded by the spotlight – also known as the media – and on the other the Kings are being thrust into the limelight as a result of their unexpected championship. This is quite a role reversal within the nation’s second largest sports and entertainment market.
Barring a work stoppage, perhaps the Lakers will be watching with an eye on the future as the Kings raise their 2012 Stanley Cup Championship banner before the home opener against the New York Rangers on October 12.
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