It's a tough job in any sport to build a successful franchise but the lucky ones, the ones that keep consistently winning, usually do it through a rare combination of getting lucky with some picks and a front office that knows when to pull the trigger and when not to. Two of the best in the NBA at it the last decade has been the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs.
Both the Lakers and the Spurs have been perennial winners for many, many years. For the Lakers, it's been a more flashy run that has netted NBA Finals appearances in what amounts to almost every other year. For the Spurs, it's been the occasional Finals combined with consistent winning and excellence.
Both squads are competitive as Hell, field Hall of Fame players and both squads also share the one single dilemma that plagues even the best of teams, they are getting old.
Age is inevitable, it happens to everybody, but what does that mean for these two teams.
Heading into the All-Star break, the one team that is showing it's age is the Lakers. Outside of Andrew Bynum, whose best years is ahead of him, this team fields quite a few players long in the tooth and it's beginning to show. The Lakers aren't the team they were even last year and as the trade deadline approaches, they might not even be the team they are right this second come middle of March. It's a trying process, the swapping of older players for younger ones, and one that will inevitably cause you to fall out of the lead pack.
That's the reality of the Lakers right now, one that even former great Jerry West agrees with.
“I don’t think the Lakers will be good for much longer, ” West said. “You can keep a car running for a long time by changing the tires, etc. You can’t change a player’s tires.”
West went on to say many of the Lakers’ current players are “getting long in the tooth.” and added
“If there’s a loose ball now, how often do they get it?”
While the Lakers are heading in a downward trend, the Spurs inexplicably just keep chugging along at the same consistent pace they have done for a decade. Heading into the All-Star break, the Spurs are 24-10, winning 9 out of their last 10, and look as if they can again contend for a NBA title. When you consider that the core of the team probably remember the faces being chiseled in Mount Rushmore, that's some pretty impressive play.
Overall, it's only a matter of time before the Spurs join the Lakers into the retirement home but for now, they have a much brighter future ahead of them, one that just keeps chugging along, denying fate and inevitability., one win at a time.
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