Can Los Angeles Lakers Thrive in Rare Underdog Role?

The Los Angeles Lakers are a franchise unfamiliar with the notion of being considered a heavy underdog. The reality is, unless you're a Miami Heat fan, your team is an underdog in 2013. Strangely enough, despite many years of inspiring league-wide admiration, this Lakers team can take advantage of its new persona.

Fans have come to accept nothing less than perpetual greatness from one of the NBA's most storied franchises. At the same time, expecting dominance is justified: The Purple and Gold boast 16 NBA Finals victories and two in the last four years. 

On top of nearly unparalleled success in the postseason in NBA history—only the Boston Celtics possess more titles with 17—the Lakers have showcased some of the NBA's greatest all-time talent. We're talking NBA legends ranging from Wilt Chamberlain to Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson to Kobe and coach Phil Jackson. 

When management paired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash with an already proven duo of the Bryant and Pau Gasol, many penciled L.A. in for a deep playoff run that culminated in a Finals bout with Miami. 

To call this season anything less than a reality check for Laker Nation would be an understatement. However, the team that takes the floor every night under coach Mike D'Antoni is one of the most entertaining and relatable bunches that have adorned Lakers colors in years. 

More than any time in recent memory, Lakers fans and players alike have had to experience legitimate adversity. Adversity reaching all the way from the decisions within the organization (ahem, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchack) to the Staples Center parquet. This especially tumultuous season has included health and coaching concerns, identity crises and resulted in just three more wins than losses. 

Breathe, Lakers fans, and review this season as a refreshing reminder of the things you love most about your team. After all, the best time...

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