Lakers keep sharp focus on winning another NBA championship

Lakers' LeBron James drives against Denver Nuggets' Jerami Grant.
Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James drives against Denver Nuggets’ Jerami Grant during the second half on Saturday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers have been in the NBA’s bubble for almost three months now, thriving despite the obstacles that have come from being away from home for so long.

They could be here for another two weeks, but the Lakers won’t complain because they are playing in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, and they have a chance to bring home the franchise’s 17th championship trophy.

The Lakers have maintained their focus, with that desire to claim another title allowing them to stay the course through it all.

“Well, we’re super locked in,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Monday in a videoconference. “Our group enjoys each other, and we’ve been through a lot, even though we were really assembled this year. It’s not a team that’s been together for multiple years, but with everything that we’ve been through, our chemistry is strong. And I think the fact that we enjoy each other away from the basketball court has really helped with the bubble environment. … And we hope that will continue for us.”

The Lakers have strong leadership from LeBron James to help steer them.

They have gotten tremendous play out of their other star, Anthony Davis, frequently in the playoffs.

Lakers star LeBron James will face his former team and Heat president Pat Riley will take on the club he coached to some of their biggest wins in the NBA Finals.

They have been tied together on and off the court.

The Lakers have gone 12-3 in the postseason, beating the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Houston Rockets in the second round and the Denver Nuggets in the conference finals.


Now the Lakers need to win four more games to be crowned champions in an NBA season that has been restarted after the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down in March.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is Wednesday night at AdventHealth Arena on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near here. Tipoff will be shortly after 6 p.m. PDT.

The Lakers have six players who have won NBA titles, and that could help against the hard-playing Heat.

James, making his ninth Finals appearance in 10 years, won two with the Heat and one with Cleveland. Danny Green won titles with San Antonio and Toronto, while JaVale McGee and Quinn Cook (Golden State), JR Smith (Cleveland), and Rajon Rondo (Boston) also have rings.

“Yeah, experience is important, but it’s not everything,” Vogel said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that haven’t been here before that behave like champions. There’s that old phrase: ‘Champions behave like champions before they’re champions.’ And obviously the experience brings value, but obviously the guys that are here, just having that hunger, whether they’ve been here or not, having that hunger and that ability to perform at a level to become a champion, and that’s what’s most important, and that’s what I feel like our whole roster represents.”

Although Frank Vogel wasn’t the Lakers’ first or second choice for head coach, he proved to be the right choice, writes columnist Helene Elliott.

When the Lakers eliminated the Nuggets on Saturday night to advance to the Finals, they enjoyed the moment, celebrating until 4 a.m.

But the Lakers still haven’t accomplished their goal — winning the NBA championship.

“I think we were excited when we won Game 5 against the Nuggets and earned our spot in the NBA Finals,” Vogel said. “But I think we appropriately had fun with it that night, enjoyed it that night. And then the next day, it’s time to move on to the next, get ready to play either the Celtics or the Heat was our mind-set yesterday. Watched the game, obviously learned that it’s the Heat, and now it’s all business.

“I don’t think there’s any kind of an eye toward the end of getting home or anything like that. It’s really just about staying single-minded in our focus about what needs to happen for us to beat the Miami Heat.”