Laker fans remain optimistic about championship prospects
Laker fans will either suffer a rude awakening or feel validated in their unyielding faith in the purple and gold.
Even with a new coach, an aging roster and improved opponents, they still believe the Lakers will win their 17th championship this season. In our online poll, 68.1% of those responding believe the Lakers will carry the Larry O'Brien trophy on a championship parade at season's end.
That's a much better image than that four-game sweep to the Dallas Mavericks that ended the last Lakers season. The sight of Andrew Bynum clotheslining J.J. Barea, Phil Jackson ending his storied coaching career on a bad note and Mark Cuban celebrating like a rock star remain fresh in the minds of Laker fans. And in this case, that might be a good thing. A plurality of fans (34.5%) believe the motivation from such a poor playoff showing will help make the difference. Also, 62.4% believe the Lakers will win between 50 and 59 games (in a 66-game season, no less); 66% predict the shortened schedule will sharpen the Lakers' focus and improve their rest; 87.1% say Pau Gasol will immediately bounce back from a poor playoff showing; and 71.9% predict Lamar Odom will remain consistent. In something that rarely sparks optimism, 64.1% also believe Bynum will remain injury-free.
There are also some disagreements on how the Lakers should manage their personnel, mainly at point guard. Though a 44.1% plurality agree they need to upgrade at point guard, Laker fans remain conflicted on who should start. A 31.9% plurality argue that Derek Fisher should keep the job until he plays poorly, whiles other clamor for Steve Blake (26.6%) and even Darius Morris (24.1%).
Clearly, Laker fans don't believe the season will be easy, particularly with many believing the Miami Heat (78.56%) and Oklahoma City Thunder (57.49%) will give them trouble. But they're optimistic the Lakers will find a way to overcome all those obstacles.
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Photo: When last we saw Lakers power forward Pau Gasol, he was battling future NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)