Los Angeles Lakers: The All-Time “Tom Brady” team

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
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Gary Payton was an all-time great. One year in the purple and gold showed the glove didn’t fit and the team quit on him! 

For the back-end of the last decade, many NBA fans complained about the star power of the Golden State Warriors. Well, history teaches that the Los Angeles Lakers had a squad on paper that could qualify as a “Super Team”.

To take this further, the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers can go on the record as being the first franchise bringing in supposedly “can’t miss” players that could convince fans that the NBA Finals trophy was a mere formality.

After the San Antonio Spurs ended the Lakers’ three-peat run, the team redoubled their efforts on getting back to the Finals by bringing in future two future Hall of Famers, Karl Malone and Gary Payton. We’ll get to Karl Malone in a second.

Gary Payton spurned the Milwaukee Bucks, who wanted to re-sign him to a long-term deal, after acquiring him in a midseason trade with the then Seattle SuperSonics. It was surprising because Payton was reunited with George Karl and they had a history.

The Lakers had Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and a clear path to a championship ring. When Kobe passed earlier this year, the interview on ESPN showed how close Payton and Bryant were.

Notice there are absolutely no Lakers highlights here. Why? He was absolutely TERRIBLE in the triangle offense. Payton was a ball-dominant point guard who loved to post up. Plus he was usually the first option on the offense along with the flexibility to run the team the way he wanted.

Players that left those types of situations to play for Phil Jackson usually was met with a culture shock. Gary Payton could write a book on the effects. The triangle took most, no check that, ALL of those opportunities away. Instead of being the first option, it would be hard-pressed to say he was no higher than the fourth option.

After the season, Gary Payton and Rick Fox were traded to the Boston Celtics. While Rick Fox retired and went Hollywood for real and became a full-time actor, Gary Payton played a couple of playoff seasons in Beantown before teaming up again with Shaq in Miami and won his title playing with Dwyane Wade.

Gary Payton talked about the lost championship aspirations last year on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd”.

"“The big reason was Karl Malone got hurt. We were [18-3] and everybody was talking about we were going to get the Bulls’ record and stuff like that. But then people don’t get it. We had a kid, Kobe Bryant, he was a kid. He had just got into trouble. He had a mindset of, ‘I think I’m going to jail. I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ He was going back and forth to Denver, we didn’t have him a lot. Then all of a sudden, Shaq and the organization was having problems.”"

Lake Show Life cannot refute any of these claims. Gary Payton is right. However, he did leave out that his contributions were little and he never tried to adjust his game to fit the triangle.

He is right about Karl Malone. Speaking of the Mailman, people think Tom Brady’s uniform will be strange. No sports figure outside of Johnny Unitas (San Diego Chargers) and Joe Namath (Los Angeles Rams) could top this mismatch.