Reporting from Washington — The Lakers got the rings and all the accolades that go with being NBA champions.
They did it by playing as one, by playing as a team in winning the title over the Orlando Magic in June.
In the eyes of Coach Phil Jackson, it's not difficult to get his team to buy into the team concept again this season -- if only because his players have seen what the results can be when they play as a collection and not individuals.
That was the case Tuesday night when the Lakers defeated the Washington Wizards, 115-103, at the Verizon Center.
Five Lakers scored in double figures.
Nine of the 10 Lakers who played scored.
It was a team effort, something Jackson believes they will continue to give this season.
"It's got to start somewhere," Jackson said. "That place is really difficult unless you have leadership. The first thing is your top player has to show the leadership that's necessary, or make the sacrifices they make. In our situation, Kobe [Bryant] playing through injuries that are very likely injuries that players would take a week to two weeks off."
Bryant, who had 26 points and eight assists against the Wizards, has been playing with a fracture on his right index finger. He has suffered from back spasms and flu-like symptoms.
Still, he has played in all 45 games.
"This is a team that's driven and on a mission," Jackson said. "I think that's one thing that makes other players realize that this is just not a job. It's a job that requires sacrifices.
"It comes with a pecking order, knowing the roles that everybody has to have. The leadership starts that. Everybody kind of falls in line behind it. Everybody kind of knows their jobs out there and that makes it a lot easier. They can fill in the roles that they have to play."
Jackson said as the coach, his role is to dole out the playing time.
Jackson said the players make the right sacrifices by performing and working together on the court.
There have been issues the Lakers have had to contend with.
"I think we're too overconfident," Lamar Odom said.
Odom was asked if that's natural.
"Yeah, especially when you win one," Odom said. "We feel like we have the opportunity to run a couple [of championships] off. We have to understand that we're no longer the hunter. We're the hunted. We just have to recognize that.
"I wouldn't call it urgency. I guess we have to carry ourselves a certain way. Disposition might be the word. I think if we do that with the talent that we have, even the games that are ugly, we'll find a way to win."