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
(Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images) /

Karl Malone was the player the Los Angeles Lakers needed to win the championship. unfortunately, his knee gave out.

It’s really amazing that the Los Angeles Lakers in some form or fashion is connected to the top four all-time scorers in NBA history?

Current player LeBron James is in the same pantheon of scoring greats with the “Icon” Kobe Bryant, the “Captain” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the “Mailman” Karl Malone.

Gary Payton was absolutely right about Karl Malone’s injuries being a problem. Karl Malone’s knee issues should be considered one of the major reasons the Lakers didn’t win a title.

When Malone was healthy, the Los Angeles Lakers, at times, made this year’s team look like it was ready for the lottery. The Los Angeles Lakers were 39-4 to start the season and most of the games were over by the middle of the 3rd quarter. They weren’t just winning games, they were destroying NBA franchises along the way.

Unlike Gary Payton, who wanted to play his own game, Malone was the ultimate team player and locker room guy. He was the player that was happy to do the dirty work, playing tough defense and rebounding the ball setting up the Lakers’ fast break.

What gets lost in how important Karl Malone, was the fact that he was also the last bit of resistance to the infamous Kobe/Shaq feud. Gary Payton talked about how Malone’s knee injury killed the hopes for a title.

"“So when we put it together and got to the playoffs, we made a run. San Antonio was the [No.3] team in the league that year; we beat them in [six] games. And then we got to the Finals and everything didn’t click after that. Karl tried to come back, blew up the knee, and then Kobe and everybody went on their own thing. We let a good team in Detroit, who was rolling at the time, beat us 4-1.”"

That’s putting it mildly. The Pistons featured a front line with Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince, who’s wingspan could put Inspector Gadget to shame. In the end, Shaq was left to fend for himself in the paint. It didn’t work out.

With all of the issues that were mentioned above, O’Neal, Bryant, Payton and Malone would only play 20 games. Karl Malone decided not to resign and eventually retired. But if he had stayed healthy, Detroit wouldn’t have beaten the Lakers.