The Los Angeles Lakers may be the most invisible two-time champions ever. It is hard to fathom, really. They win consecutive titles, return with all their key players, add a couple of nice pieces and they still seem to be a footnote to the start of the season.
The NBA's spotlight shines brightest in Miami, where LeBron James and Chris Bosh have joined Dwyane Wade. The Heat have received so much attention that the Lakers have been almost overlooked.
The Lakers have Kobe Bryant, one of the world's most famous players, are led by Phil Jackson, the greatest post-season coach in NBA history, play in the backyard of Hollywood … and can barely get a sniff of attention?
If this is irritating the Lakers, they have been careful not to admit it. "I think it's fine," Jackson said. "I'm great with it. It brings excitement to the game."
There is a theory that being overshadowed by the Heat is actually a benefit to a team that normally draws the bulk of national and international media attention.
Alvin Gentry, the Phoenix Suns coach, thinks the Lakers will benefit from avoiding the glare deflected toward the Heat. "There's a lot of talk about that team in South Beach," he said. "I think those [Lakers] guys enjoy that. I think they like flying under the radar."
The Lakers unexpectedly have been handed an us-against-the-world card. And at the right moment, expect them to play it, too.