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Category: Lakers-Heat

Poll results show Laker fans feel strongly confident about a three-peat

54398053-1Our economy is in disarray. There's uncertainty over the Afghan war. And political tensions remain high. There are plenty of things for people to be upset about these days, and the polls certainly show it. But the polls here at the L.A. Times Lakers blog reveal upbeat attitudes about one thing, anyway: the Lakers' chances for a three-peat.

The Lakers are coming off a second consecutive championship, making the off-season more relaxing, the free-agency process known as "The Decision" more laughable and causing the urge to start up the season to spike. Not to worry, though, folks. Training camp starts Saturday, meaning you can stop rewinding Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, playing out imaginary Lakers games in your dreams and searching miles and miles for any morsel of Lakers news.

Magic Johnson once said to the L.A. Times' Chris Erskine, referring to the Lakers after they won their 16th championship: "It's the only thing the people can trust. They trust the Lakers."

So what kind of trust do you have in the Lakers for the 2010-11 NBA season?  Poll results show that 96.15% of you believe the Lakers will three-peat, so you may as well start planning for another parade. The reasons vary. I listed multiple factors that seemed to work in the Lakers' favor, including talent, experience, off-season acquisitions, Phil Jackson and the seemingly inferior competition. Instead of singling out one variable that will push the Lakers over the edge, 63.49% of you said all of the above -- all these qualities make the Lakers tough to beat.

For those who want a seat at the NBA Finals, well, start thinking about booking flights to South Beach or Boston. Most of you are ready to fly 3,000 miles to Chowder City, with 57.52% predicting the Celtics will rematch the Lakers in the 2011 NBA Finals. It'd be a compelling series for sure, what with Shaquille O'Neal up against Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest duking it out again with Paul Pierce and the Lakers hoping to close the series gap to 17-12. But then there's the 36.91% of you who think the Lakers will be taking their talents to South Beach and proving which team is really super.

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Miami Heat shouldn't count their titles before winning a game

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There's no doubt that the Miami Heat should be a formidable foe this season. But like most of you, I was a little taken aback when Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh had their introductory love-fest and started using two hands to count the number of NBA championships they'd bring to Florida.

We all know how difficult it is to win one title, let alone several in a row. The fact that the Lakers are seeking a three-peat for the second time in less than 10 years is remarkable, as in only Michael Jordan and the Bulls have accomplished that feat since the Bill Russell-led Celtics dominated the 1960s.

There have been great trios in the past that couldn't get it done: the Elgin Baylor-Jerry West-Wilt Chamberlain Lakers, the Julius Erving-Charles Barkley-Moses Malone 76ers, the Hakeen Olajuwon-Clyde Drexler-Charles Barkley Rockets come to mind. I'm sure you might be able to think of others.

While Wade, James and Bosh have familiarity with one another from their days on the national team when they won the 2008 Beijing Olympics (with Kobe Bryant, of course), they will be playing alongside each other with an entirely new cast of supporting characters. And therein lies the biggest hurdle they will have to clear.

While the Heat have some nice pieces to put around them -- retaining power forward Udonis Haslem, who does all the dirty work, signing a sharp-shooter in guard-forward Mike Miller and bringing in serviceable if not spectacular 7-3 center Zydrunas Ilgauskas -- the team's depth and cohesiveness will be their Achilles' heel. While pint-sized Eddie House has a title under his belt with the Celtics from 2008 and he can light it up from time to time, does anyone really think he's going to be a vital role player? And reserve point guard Carlos Arroyo? Not a difference-maker. They do have quite a collection of aging big men: IIgauskas, Juwan Howard and Jamaal Magliore. Combined age? About 100. Not good.

Miami does have rookie DaSean Butler, a silky smooth swingman from West Virginia who should have a very good NBA career, starting in about three to four years. And there's third-year guard Mario Chalmers , a solid reserve, but skinny shooting forward James Jones is a liability anywhere but the three-point line. The rest of the roster? Forgettable.

Now, the triumverate of Wade, Bosh and James should be good for 50 wins on their own. They are that talented, although there is only one ball and I'm not the only one that sees that as a problem. In fact, there's plenty of reasons floating around on the Web as to why the Heat will fall short.

Which brings us to this conclusion. The Lakers are two-time defending NBA champions that have actually improved their roster and all challengers should fight their way to the top of the standings and into their respective conference finals before talking about multiple championships. Wait, maybe they should win one before talking about it.

--Dan Loumena

Photo: New Miami Heat teammates (from left) Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James greet the masses during an introductory celebration at American Airlines Arena on July 9. Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images

Bow Wow bets George Lopez that the Heat will beat the Lakers on Christmas Day

After this, rapper and Lakers fan Snoop Dogg may tell Bow Wow he's no longer worthy of bearing the name he gave him. Bow Wow recently appeared on "Lopez Tonight," betting comedian George Lopez $25,000 toward charity that the Miami Heat would beat the Lakers on Christmas Day.

"We just need a big man. The Lakers are the team to beat," Bow Wow said in the video below. "But we're going to get ya'll on Christmas Day, though."

Even if Bow Wow is simply following the Vegas betting lines that say the Heat will beat the Lakers for the NBA championship next season, this corner of the blogosphere obviously disagrees.

That leads to this question: How much would you be willing to bet that the Lakers will beat Miami on Christmas Day and/or in the NBA Finals?

-- Mark Medina
twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Will the 2010-2011 squad be the best Laker team under Jerry Buss?

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Lakers owner Jerry Buss wasn't shy about setting the bar for the 2010-2011 season. "As of now, I feel there's a good chance this could be the best team we've ever had," he told reporters Tuesday. Fitting he made those comments at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, where he was hosting a charity poker tournament for the Lakers' youth foundation, because that just raises the stakes for the Lakers even more.

There are reasons why Buss feels so optimistic only days since being inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Lakers are back-to-back champions. They have their main corps in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest locked into long-term contracts. Despite concerns over limiting spending this off-season because of luxury tax implications, Buss and the Lakers decided to spend anyway, re-signing Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, and upgraded their roster by snagging free agents Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff and two second-round picks -- Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter -- who some consider a steal. Add the fact that many of the injured players last season (Bryant, Bynum and Gasol) are abstaining from basketball this summer and there's plenty of reason why Buss should feel optimistic.

Still, Buss' proclamation is bold, considering the impressive teams that helped him win 10 championships since purchasing the team in 1979 and because Eastern Conference teams in Miami, Chicago, Boston and Orlando all seem to be gunning for the Lakers. In order for the 2010-2011 team to be considered the best under Buss' watch, at least statistically, the Lakers would obviously need to win a title, go undefeated in the postseason to eclipse the 15-1 mark the 2001 team set, and surpass the 65-17 regular season record the 1987 and 2009 Laker championship teams compiled.

Of course, numbers don't mean everything. For example, some Laker fans would value an NBA title over the Celtics (1985, 1987, 2010) more than, say, a championship against the Philadelphia 76ers (2001) or New Jersey Nets (2002). In order for the Lakers to boost their profile as the greatest in the Buss era, would they need to beat Miami to prove the Super team isn't all that super? Or would the Lakers have to win against Boston so the two franchises would be tied for total championships (17) and so Kobe Bryant can get one of his rings against Shaq?

Then there's the case of how the team on paper meshes in reality. Below the jump are the best and worst-case scenarios

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What nicknames do you have for Shaquille O'Neal and Miami's Super Team?

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Perhaps I'm taking a huge risk going down this path and leaving myself vulnerable that this exercise will just open the floodgates. But I'll do it anyway.

Throughout the 2010-2011 season, surely fans of the L.A. Times Lakers blog will leave comments denigrating Shaquille O'Neal and the Boston Celtics as well as Miami's Super Team in some fashion, along with some not-so-flattering nicknames. I want to keep this clean, but I hope this forum can serve as a launching pad for what nicknames you plan to assign Shaq as well as the Miami trio (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh).

Instead of presenting a poll with wide-ranging options, I'm going to leave those choices up to you so it doesn't stunt anyone's creativity. I will then follow up with a post on Thursday tallying all the results and featuring some of the best comments. Feel free to use it as a reference tool throughout the season in case you forget one of the names.

Remember, let's show some maturity and keep this in good taste.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Laker fans have plenty of nicknames for LeBron James. Credit: Paul Tople / Associated Press.

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