by Marcel Mutoni

To the joy and relief of the vast majority of Laker fans, including yours truly, Lamar Odom rejoined the band yesterday, more or less officially kicking off the title defense for next season. Logic and history indicate that it will be a long, arduous, and possibly even disastrous journey for the Lakers, but not everyone thinks so.

According to some folks, this re-signing all but guarantees gaudy championship jewelry next June. Take this OC Register story for instance:

Ron Artest or Shannon Brown might have to run down the pass and save the playoff game and give Kobe Bryant a chance to grand-marshal his own parade again. But the Lakers, according to Thursday’s reports, know that Lamar Odom and his telescoping tentacles and his fastball jumper and his locker room sweet tooth and his general lovin’-life vibes will return to El Segundo. Along with another Lawrence F. O’Brien trophy. Yeah, it’s about that simple.

Without Odom, the Lakers were still going to win the Western Conference and make the NBA Finals for a third consecutive season. Then they would be crash-test dummies for Eastern powers who have buffed up…With him, and with no cataclysmic injuries, this budding junta cracks down on its opposition. NBA champions tend to repeat themselves, especially when they’re as young as are the Lakers.

The arrogance in the above is almost as stunning as it is insane.

Any number of things could go wrong for the Lakers in their quest to repeat: Injuries, complacency, locker room turmoil, Ron Artest doing something Artest-esque at the most inopportune time, etc. And what, are all of the other championship contenders in the League who’ve reloaded this summer simply going to lay down?

In life, there are no guarantees (least of all, when sports are involved.) So, let’s not get too excited with the L.A. title talk just yet.