Shaq Heads Back West

About a week ago when the Lakers made this season’s first blockbuster trade, I was convinced that Kobe and Phil were well on their way to representing the West in the NBA Finals.

With last night’s news of Phoenix trading Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to Miami for Shaquille O’neal, I’m still convinced that the Lakers trade will pay off bigger dividends in the near and distant future.

No I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do remember the past. Think back two seasons ago to the 2006 Playoffs. Kobe’s Lakers got off to a 3-1 lead in their series against the Suns before falling in game 7 on the road. Keep in mind that the 2006 Laker team didn’t feature Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, or Trevor Ariza. The most important addition to the Lakers has been the meteoric rise and maturation of Andrew Bynum ,who just turned 20 this past October.

Since their 2006 playoff exit, the Lakers have made vast improvements. The Suns, while they have added vetetans such as Grant Hill and Shaq to their rosters, haven’t improved their talent as much.

Now if the Suns were able to resurrect the Shaq of old, circa 1994 then they’d be a lock for the Finals.

I mean watch the guy:

But sadly that’s not the guy the Suns are getting. They’re getting a guy who is not nearly as athletic or skilled as he once was. And his commitment to defense ( which is the main reason for the trade) has been highly questioned in the past few years. Can he repair his game for one more run at a title and possibly put Kobe out of the playoffs in the process? We’ll see. My dough is on Kobe for now though.


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