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Why You Never Doubt The Lakers

The Lakers traded for Steve Nash Wednesday and shocked the NBA world with one more trade that'll keep them contending for the next few years. But none of this should be surprising.

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The Los Angeles Lakers have made the playoffs 34 of the last 37 seasons. Just stop for a second to think about how incredible that is. My favorite team (the Washington Wizards) hasn't had a 50-win season in the past 30 years. Over that same span, the Lakers have done it 22 times.

So no, I wasn't even a little surprised when a friend texted me about the Steve Nash news. It makes perfect sense.

It would be weirder if they didn't find a way to pull a fourth superstar out of thin air and keep themselves in the title conversation for the next three years. This is why the Lakers are the NBA's Illuminati. The same way there's definitely a secret society of free masons out there choosing U.S. Presidents and co-opting various rappers to control our universe, the Lakers are the shadowy hoops force that steals superstars for nothing, strikes when nobody expects it and somehow always end up at the top of the NBA. This is just how the world works.

After Wednesday's trade, I fully expect them to land Dwight Howard in the next six months, find a quality backup point guard to make Nash's life easier, contend for titles over the next few years, and then once Kobe finally retires, I'm sure they'll somehow end up with Jabari Parker or some other once-in-a-generation star to rule the NBA for the next decade. Again, it'd be weirder if they didn't.

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As far as NBA empires go, it's easier to understand what makes L.A. incredible by comparing them to someone like the Knicks. Both have endless funds, massive followings and giant media markets to keep the whole machine rolling. But only one has spent 30 years dominating the NBA.

The Knicks are the corporation that's too big and entrenched to ever fail, but too reckless and impatient to ever really succeed. Then 3,000 miles away, you have the Lakers -- the team that rarely courts stars in public, stays quiet and waits patiently, then hits with surgical, devastating strikes. After two years and 500,000 Nash-to-the-Knicks rumors, Nash wound up in L.A. because the Lakers are the inevitable superpower the Knicks pretend to be.

Think back to the Chris Paul trade that should have made them title contenders last season. All year long everyone expected Paul to wind up in New York next to Carmelo Anthony, and then with nobody looking, the Lakers stunned the league so badly they scared David Stern into the worst abuse of executive power the NBA's ever seen. Now they've bounced back.

We don't know for sure what it'll look like on the court, but in hindsight, it's kind of embarrassing that more of us hadn't already imagined a Kobe-Nash partnership. On paper it's perfect.

Neither guy is the player he used to be, but they're both good enough to extend each other's career by another two or three seasons. Kobe shot 43 percent last season and spent the better part of his time on offense handling the ball and starting the offense. Imagine how much easier his life gets with Nash, who turned guys like Grant Hill and Jared Dudley into legitimate weapons over the last few years in Phoenix.

More Steve Nash trade analysis.

Plus, Nash should make Pau Gasol a deadlier weapon than he's been in years. If you could pick one point guard to pair with Pau on a pick-and-roll, Nash tops that list, right? Maybe you take CP3, but if he's healthy, I think Nash is still the ideal choice.

It'll be an adventure on defense, and L.A. still needs to add depth in the coming months if they want to have all these stars healthy for the playoffs, but finding quality backups is much easier than finding a superstar point guard who can rejuvenate what was a dying empire as recently as Tuesday.

With Nash, a Lakers offense that never totally clicked the past few years now becomes potentially devastating, and if they can somehow add, I don't know, the best defensive player in basketball (Dwight), then Nash's defensive weaknesses become mostly moot and they probably become co-favorites in the West and the whole league.

Even with the current roster, they've gotta be added to the group of four or five teams with legitimate title hopes next year. They aren't favorites, but only because the rest of the league's contenders are so ridiculously talented themselves. And that's the final point in all this.

As evil as the Lakers seem to someone who's watched the Wizards stumble through no-man's land for the past 20 or 30 years, this is pretty great for basketball. How will Nash look in purple and gold? How does Kobe react to playing off the ball for the first time in years? How much better will Pau be? Can this team hang with OKC and Miami now? It's almost impossible to think about Steve Nash in L.A. and not get impatient for basketball to start, like, yesterday.

The league's just more fun with more great teams, and right now we've got as many as ever. As for the Lakers? The same way the Knicks' clumsy title chases have become an annual tradition, for me the NBA just wouldn't be the same if L.A. wasn't playing a stupid amount of games on National TV, making all the money and getting all the calls and stumbling into one-sided trades. They're the evil empire that never really goes away, and I think I kinda love it.

Steve Nash has spent his entire career as a lovable underdog on underdog teams, and now he's part of the NBA Illuminati with Jack Nicholson, Jerry Buss, Kobe, and everyone else who's sold their soul. You can't say you're not excited to see what happens next.

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