Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Word From Ryan #1

Ryan Ward is a passionate and opinionated sports writer that has dedicated himself to his craft over the past five years writing about all the sports he loves from the US and overseas, from International soccer to NFL football, but with an especially passionate interest in NBA basketball and the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Jerry West claims Lakers’ age is starting to affect the defense

The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers have dominated the league over the past few seasons as they have gone to three straight NBA Finals and been the team to beat in the Western Conference. Even though Kobe Bryant and company came into yet another title defense with high hopes of winning three in a row for the second time in the Black Mamba/Zen Master era in L.A., this year has been arguably the toughest challenge with age starting to become a factor as the Lakers continue to compete against the best and brightest the NBA has to offer.

There is no question that the Los Angeles Lakers are still a very talented basketball with arguably the best player in the world in Kobe Bryant leading the way. The problem is that this championship caliber squad has an average of 30 years old and has played more games than any other team over the last three years. There are 10 players on this team currently that are 30 years of age or older.

Kobe Bryant alone has put a lot of miles on his body over the last three seasons as he has been battling injuries the entire time and was one of two players (Lamar Odom being the other) to play for Team USA during the offseason over the past few years. Even if Kobe’s injured finger was hanging by a thread, the two-time NBA Finals MVP would still try and get on the floor to lead his squad, but his banged up body can only take so much and every passing game brings him closer and closer to calling it quits.

Recently, Los Angeles Lakers legend and former general manager Jerry “Mr. Clutch” West came out and said that the age of this team is really starting to affect the defense.

“If there’s a loose ball now, how often do they get to it? The reason you can’t play defense is because you can’t,” West said.

When the Lakers are playing at the top of their game they are as good as any team in the league on the defensive end of the floor, but this season they have really struggled to play consistently well.

Head coach Phil Jackson doesn’t disagree with Jerry West in this regard.

“He’s right. We have to do a lot of things right to be able to play defense the way we want to, and most of it is about controlling the tempo of a game,” Jackson said.

As of right now, the Los Angeles Lakers are leading the way in the Pacific division once again with a 32-13 record heading into their matchup with the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center on Tuesday night. Along with being atop their division and almost certainly playoff bound once again, the Lakers are doing pretty well in keeping opponent scoring down by giving up 96.4 points per game (10th in the NBA).

Ultimately though, the Lakers will start to feel time creeping up on them and will need some younger players to come in to help Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to keep this team among the best of the best in the Western Conference.

If the team fails to repeat or even go far in the playoffs this time around, I would anticipate some changes to this roster in the offseason with Phil Jackson’s retirement being the first domino to fall.

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