Despite Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade’s utterance that the Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites to repeat as NBA champions, Kobe Bryant’s team shouldn’t just be handed the trophy now. The road as a defending champion is always longer and more difficult than the previous one.
There are more expectations and thus more pressure. The mentality of fans is “If the Los Angeles Lakers won the title last year and kept every significant piece on their roster, why can’t they do it again?”
The answer is twofold. For one thing, a bullseye is inevitably placed on the back of each defending champion. It’s now squarely affixed between the numbers of the purple and gold jerseys. Especially on the back of Kobe Bryant’s 24.