How three championship teams were built on money and trades, had one historic season, united the city and then returned to mediocrity.
When you think of Los Angeles, you think of movies, celebrities, Hollywood and beautiful people, weather and beaches. Sports seem to be an afterthought, especially since teams have come and gone.
Now, after rebuilding a sports culture in the city, LA and its fans find themselves with a different kind of legacy.
I’m not saying the city doesn’t have a history of championships. The Lakers won 12 of their 17 rings here and the Dodgers won six out of their seven championships here as well. These teams’ fan bases are strong and are a huge part of the city.
The addition of the Rams in 2016 ended two decades of LA not having a football team. New and old fans alike came together for this homecoming and it was great.
All three teams ended up winning a championship in 2020 and 2021. LA became a sports city once more, but now, it has no future prospects or talents, falling short of any kind of dynasty.
When did this new culture start?
After a 35-45 record in the 2018-2019 season, many didn’t know what the LeBron James era of the Lakers would be like. Then the Anthony Davis trade happened. Young, developing talent was shipped out and NBA vets like Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo joined the team.
When the pandemic took the world by storm, the NBA created “The Bubble” to continue the season. The Lakers came together and brought home a championship to end the decade-long drought.
What happened next?
In the 2020-2021 season, the Lakers were able to overcome injuries but got bounced in the play-in tournament. Their response? Pick up Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Trevor Ariza and trade away more players for all-star Russell Westbrook.
A lack of chemistry and depth, Westbrook’s play and former head coach Frank Vogel under constant fire led to a 33-49 record in 2021-2022.
After the Dodgers re-signed in-house talents like Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager, the organization pulled off a blockbuster trade to get former Boston Red Sox all-star, Mookie Betts. This high-powered offense took off in the shortened 60-game season and won the 2020 World Series.
The 32-year drought ended. What happened next?
In the 2020-2021 season, the Dodgers made more big moves to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, while signing free agent Trevor Bauer. Despite Bauer’s off-the-field investigation, the team went on to have a record of 106-56 and made a return to the National League Championship Series.
Late-season injuries and mismanagement from Dave Roberts cost the team a chance to repeat.
The Dodgers refused to be denied in 2022 and went for the “win now” tactic. The boys in blue got free agent Freddie Freeman and traded for Joey Gallo. The team went on to have a historic 111-51 record and looked poised to win it all once more.
The Dodgers faced their “little brother,” the San Diego Padres, in the NLDS and lost 3-1 in the playoff series.
In the 2018-2019 season, the Rams came close to ending the Patriots’ dynasty in Super Bowl LIII but ultimately came up short.
The team didn’t make the playoffs and had a record of 9-7.
Once again, the Rams organization wanted to win now and built the team to do so. A huge trade before the season for veteran QB Matt Stafford, a midseason trade for defensive star Von Miller and picking up Odell Beckham Jr. planned to help the offense.
The Rams went 12-5 and became the Super Bowl LVI champs.
The outcome of going all out for one season is showing.
The Dodgers just lost in the second round, it’s unclear who’s going to stay and there’s a lack of prospects and picks to help rebuild.
The Lakers’ situation with Westbrook continues to draw unwanted attention going into the 2022-2023 season and the chemistry, depth and skill to make it to the playoffs was not present in their first game of the season.
The Rams currently have a record of 3-3, the offensive and defensive scheme being lackluster, and are currently trying to get rid of running back Cam Akers while Stafford remains a shell of himself. Just like the other LA teams, they don’t have the young talent or draft picks to build back stronger.
While this “win now” strategy has proven to be successful and has made L.A. a championship city again, it has come with a clear cost.
Is it worth getting the instant gratification of winning it all only to start another championship drought? It will be a debate among the fans if they are for it.