The Los Angeles Lakers are the Southern California version of the Miami Heat.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
There are fans, like myself, who would prefer to go the traditional route of building a franchise -- to build from within through the draft. I don't like the idea of "buying a championship", but that is the direction the NBA has gone.
Call me crazy, but I would prefer to have a modest group of guys who play their heart out every night and squeeze into the playoffs than I would a "store-bought" team full of prima donnas who force me to watch a soap opera full of drama instead of pure basketball.
The 2011-12 Laker season was nothing short of a miserable experience. Consistent trade rumors regarding Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined with the uncertainty of how well the players were buying in to Coach Mike Brown's system left many fans in Los Angeles (and perhaps elsewhere) banging their heads against the wall.
Once the team was eliminated by Oklahoma City in the playoffs, Laker fans awaited the offseason and expected change. You'd be hard pressed to find a fan in Los Angeles who felt this team could win with the roster they had in place. There was also a very common feeling towards Bynum. Most were fed up with his selfishness and wanted him to be shipped out.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak did what many fans considered to be the impossible. He managed to bring in Dwight Howard without having to lose both Bynum and Gasol. This was in addition to the splash he made by landing Steve Nash to give the team the best point guard they have had in years. When was the last time the Lakers had somebody like Nash who could penetrate the lane and find an open teammate in the way that Nash can? It's been quite some time.
The Lakers now have a starting lineup of Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peach, Gasol, and Howard. Coming off the bench they currently have Antawn Jamison, Devin Ebanks, Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks, and Steve Blake. The roster of the role players is subject to change at any time as Kupchak molds it into what he believes will complement the stellar starting lineup.
Have the Lakers bought a championship? I don't think so. I don't think any team ever buys a championship. Nothing is guaranteed, but I applaud Kupchak for being able to pull off the moves that he has.
If the Lakers fail to win a championship it will be disappointing though. When you have a starting five like the Lakers do now, anything short of a championship would be a failure.
For all the flack Miami received about forming "The Big Three", Los Angeles has taken it a step further with their big four (sorry, World Peach does not make it a big five).
The Lakers have purchased a title contender and the culture of the NBA has made it acceptable for big market teams to get stronger while the others get left further behind. Whenever an organization like Miami or Los Angeles goes "all-in" to win a championship regardless of the financial ramifications they should be applauded.
Because in the end, deep down, you would want your team to do the same thing if they could.
OS Voice: Do you have a problem with NBA franchises doing all they can to form "super teams"?
Joe Chacon is a staff writer for Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeChacon.