Hollywood has become obsessed with the art, and I use that term loosely, of rebooting. From Batman to Bond to now even Bourne, the film industry loves bringing back its winning franchises. Hollywood”s winningest franchise, however, is the Los Angeles Lakers. By snagging Dwight Howard in a trade, the Lake Show has once again reminded us that nobody in Tinseltown reboots better than the Purple and Gold.
It’s funny that The Bourne Legacy dropped right after news broke about the Howard trade. The Bourne series was once synonymous with Matt Damon, aka Jason Bourne, but his trilogy is over. The franchise has moved on without its star and titular character. In steps Jeremy Renner, who’s been absolutely on fire ever since The Hurt Locker, as Aaron Cross. It sounds crazy, but even without Damon/Bourne The Bourne Legacy is on tap to win the box office with a $40-million-plus haul this weekend. Its reviews are also pretty decent for summer blockbuster fare, with it currently netting a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes. Bourne movies apparently can even be successful without freaking Bourne.
As The Dark Knight Rises showed us earlier this Summer — and if you haven’t seen it yet, you kinda deserve to have it spoiled — symbols are more important than stars. The Batman symbol. The Lakers logo. Both franchises. Move over Bruce Wayne, John Blake is taking over the cape and cowl. Move over Black Mamba, Superman Part II is coming to the Staples Center. Au revoir Christopher Nolan, bonjour Ben Affleck.
Warner Bros. realized that even Kubrick-in-training Christopher Nolan could only deliver so many classic Batman psychological thrillers. Universal realized that even A-lister Matt Damon could only carry a franchise for so long. Jim Buss finally made the same call with Kobe Bryant. Even No. 24, who Magic Johnson has called the “greatest Laker ever,” will one day have to ride off into the sunset. That day is rapidly approaching. Fortunately for the Lakers, they don’t just bring in superstars, they typically bring them in when others are on their way out the door.
First West. Then Goodrich. And of course the one and only Wilt the Stilt. Even without a recently retired Elgin Baylor, that Lakers team won the 1972 NBA title.
Next, Kareem’s seven-foot-five wingspan descended upon the Forum. Followed by some Magic. And a Worthy third wheel. The Showtime Era produced five Lakers championships during the 80s.
1996 ushered in the third great era in Lakers basketball (not including the Minnesota years). The Lakers signed Shaq, and traded for the draft rights to his heir apparent, Kobe. Shaq’s Lakers three-peated during 2000-02.
The Kobe Era kicked off in 2008 when Mitch Kupchak lifted Pau Gasol from the Grizz, often cited as a parting gift from Jerry West. That resulted in back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.
For most NBA franchises, back-to-back titles would be good enough to warrant a decade of playoff-free stankonia. Not the Lakers. After getting embarrassed in the playoffs the past two years by the Mavs and Thunder, respectively, the Lakers had to reload. Err, reboot. They brought in the best passer in basketball, Steve Nash. Then they imported Howard, possibly the best young star in the game outside of Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Especially after Derrick Rose’s knee imploded. Suddenly, the Lakers have to be considered not only the favorites to win the West, but an NBA title.
Even West, the man whose silhouette is the NBA logo, isn’t bigger than the Lakers logo. No superstar has ever been bigger than the Lakers. Not Wilt. Not Kareem. Not Magic. Not Shaq. Now not Kobe, and eventually not Dwight. The Lakers have been re-Bourne, and have done so by reminding us that stars come and go. Bourne goes on without Bourne. Robin can become Batman. Anybody can wear the mask. The Lakers uniform was a symbol of greatness long before Dwight, and will remain so once he’s replaced by his Robin, his Jeremy Renner.