The Lakers are championship contenders again but it so happened that it’s been a year full of challenges and drama

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo from Kobe Bryant Mural Locations/Twitter

It’s been one hell of a dramatic year for Los Angeles Lakers fans. 

According to ESPN’s NBA beat reporter Dave McMenamin, year two of LeBron James and the Lakers felt like a rollercoaster ride and I couldn’t agree more. As someone who’s been a die-hard Lakers fan for over 13 years now (yes, I’m proud I’m not a bandwagoner) this has by far been the most dramatic season. And I say this considering I went through all the team’s failed attempts to sign a superstar before James, hoping the team gets a draft lottery pick for years and missing the playoffs for seven straight seasons. That’s tough for every NBA fan. 

Fast forward to 2020 (I sometimes like to pretend the down years didn’t exist) the Lakers now have two generational superstars who are leading what was once a team full of scrubs. We’re championship contenders again but it so happened that we’re in a year full of challenges and drama. From the unexpected tragic death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter to suddenly being doubted as the first seed in the western conference, the year has felt like a damn Hollywood movie. Or maybe even a Bollywood movie, which in my opinion I feel is way more extraordinary.

And that’s exactly the reason why the latest mural in Venice Blvd, Los Angeles hits the spot for every Lakers fan. “Leave a legacy” the mural screams big and loud.  Created by artist Gustavo Zermeño Jr. in partnership with the Lakers and UCLA health, the mural was posted by Instagram user Kobe Bryant Murals Locations, who tracks every Kobe Bryant mural around the world. I don’t know what message is more fitting than “Leave a legacy” at this point because if there’s anything the Lakers want to do, it’s just that. 

The word legacy gets thrown around casually especially in sports. But this legacy the Lakers are currently creating is more than just winning their 17th franchise championship. It’s also about rising through all the adversity and pain the team and their fans have dealt with all year. 

“’It’s 2020.’ Nothing is normal in 2020. Nothing seems as is, and who knows if it will ever go back to the way it was,” said James in one of his first press conferences in the NBA bubble. 

In this year’s playoffs, the Lakers will go through the toughest road they could ever imagine. ESPN’s Brian Windhorts pointed out that the team’s first seed advantage might not favor the team after all. Not only did the coronavirus take away the team’s home court advantage (one of their strongest weapons) but also structured the toughest playoff matchups for the Lakers.

For James and the Lakers to win the championship this year, they have to go through the red hot Portland Trail Blazers, probably the hungry Houston Rockets or Oklahoma City Thunder, championship favorites Los Angeles Clippers and finals favorites Milkwaukie Bucks and Toronto Raptors. I don’t know if this is the matchup the Lakers hoped for but if they want to leave a legacy, they have to conquer what is probably the toughest battle of their lives. 

And I won’t be surprised if they do. Because if there’s one thing the Los Angeles Lakers are known for, it’s their ability to create and leave a legacy.