(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James had court-side seats for the Milwaukee Bucks thrilling victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5. There for his friend, Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul, LeBron saw Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo dominate like former Lakers greats such as Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain years before.
Come to think of it, this season’s Finals looked a lot like the bubble for the Lakers last season (not just because Phoenix’s Jae Crowder was on the losing end for both those series).
Once Miami’s Bam Adebayo injured his shoulder, there was nobody stopping the Lakers and Anthony Davis from dominating that series. As for Milwaukee, Giannis willed them to four consecutive wins after falling behind 2-0 in the series.
The season’s Bucks team is exactly how the Los Angeles Lakers built their title team last season.
Obviously, Giannis is the main reason why Milwaukee won their first NBA Championship 50 years ago, way back when former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led them to their first NBA Championship alongside hall of fame guard Oscar Robertson.
After they went down 2-0, Milwaukee’s won the next four games once they realized nobody on Phoenix could slow down Giannis. Their superior size advantage at every position also overwhelmed Phoenix’s small lineup on the offensive glass, which often forced center Deandre Ayton and guard Devin Booker into foul trouble.
Giannis played as if he would not get another title opportunity for another 50 years, finishing off the series with a dominant 50 point game in Game 6.
But superstars do not win championships by themselves. This season’s roster for Milwaukee and last season’s Lakers were built on a physical, aggressive brand of basketball while relying on their respective superstars to carry the offense. Both team’s role players did not try to do too much and excelled in their individual roles.
The Lakers are considered a super-team because they had LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as they should be. But I disagree with the popular narrative that Giannis did not have a super-team this season. Maybe Giannis is the only “superstar” on the team but he has three all-stars (Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez) either at or close to their prime.
The best teams not only have the superstar to anchor their offense and defense, but also have the role players who are superstars in their roles.
Here are three lessons the Lakers can learn from Milwaukee’s title run.