The Los Angeles Lakers brand is back.
When the Lakers attempt to close out the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Friday night, the stakes run from profound to personal.
A 17th Lakers title, including five by the Minneapolis Lakers, would tie the team with the Boston Celtics for the most in NBA history. LeBron James and Danny Green can become the first NBA players to win championships with three teams, but James might also be the first to win three NBA Finals MVP trophies with three teams.
For those things to feel normal to NBA fans is a testament to the historic reputations of the Lakers and James, considering what they have endured.
The Lakers have not made the playoffs since 2013 or reached the NBA Finals since 2010. They were on their sixth head coach in eight years when Frank Vogel took the job because Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams passed.
James was coming off playing a career-low 55 games in his debut Lakers season, a 37-45 campaign that spilled over into an open closet of dysfunction when Magic Johnson quit as president of basketball operations.
Even after the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis, they were being considered the second-best team in their city once the Los Angeles Clippers landed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
From chaos to crown, the Lakers are on the precipice of finishing a 16-4 postseason and backing up what James pledged to do upon arrival. It just might have taken some self-created “#WashedKing” social media motivation, a superstar teammate and a former team as his Finals grudge match for the 35-year-old to get there again.
When the confetti falls and someone asks what James will do now, he’ll say, “I am leaving DisneyWorld!”