In the annals of Lakers history, the 2007-2008 NBA season stands as a pivotal chapter. This season, though falling short of a championship, laid the foundation for future triumphs. Ranked among the top 10 greatest Laker teams to have missed an NBA championship, this era holds a special place in the hearts of devoted fans, as well as in the memories of basketball enthusiasts.
This remarkable season saw the Lakers bolstered by the extraordinary talent of the late Kobe Bryant, who was at the peak of his career. Alongside him, a supporting cast of skilled players made LA a formidable contender in the league, albeit not yet great in the eyes of many. However, destiny intervened when Andrew Bynum, the former Lakers center, suffered an injury in January of 2008. It was a turning point that demanded swift action.
Responding to this challenge, the Lakers’ management orchestrated a game-changing move at the February trade deadline, acquiring Memphis Grizzlies All-Star center Pau Gasol. This move, seemingly minor at the time, would prove to be a pivotal moment in Lakers history. It set in motion a series of events that would propel the Lakers on an awe-inspiring journey through the NBA.
The impact of the Gasol trade was immediate. The Lakers embarked on a remarkable winning streak, defying all expectations. Their journey culminated in an appearance in the NBA Finals, a stage that had eluded them for some time. It was during this remarkable season that Kobe Bryant secured the NBA MVP award, a testament to his enduring greatness.
“Los Angeles won seven of its first 10 games and 26 of its first 37. Although this start brought fans a bit of optimism, something was missing. The Lakers were good, but not a true contender.”
However, the finals proved to be a challenging ordeal as they faced their arch-rivals, the Boston Celtics. In a hard-fought series that spanned six games, the Lakers fell short. The Celtics’ tenacious defense proved to be the difference-maker, enabling them to seize control of pivotal moments in the games.
“Then came Feb. 1, the day everything turned around. That afternoon, the Lakers announced they had obtained Hall of Fame big man Pau Gasol. Even better, they didn’t surrender any of their key players to get him, other than Brown, whom no one missed for a microsecond.”
One glaring weakness emerged during the finals: the absence of Andrew Bynum left the Lakers vulnerable in the frontcourt. Pau Gasol, a brilliant player in his own right, was tasked with defending the more athletic Kevin Garnett. Unfortunately, Garnett’s prowess prevailed, making it appear effortless.
In response to this, the Lakers regrouped during the offseason, strategically reinforcing their lineup with formidable defenders. This tactical maneuvering laid the groundwork for a championship-winning era, leading to back-to-back NBA titles.
While the 2007-2008 Lakers team may not have captured the championship, their contributions should not be understated. They played an instrumental role in setting the stage for the Lakers’ subsequent dominance in the league, leaving an indelible mark on the franchise’s storied history.