Paul Pierce recently spoke to the New York Times about the Lakers and their potential in the future. He said that they are “giving him that Karl Malone, Gary Payton feel” because of how well they play together.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Paul Pierce compared the Lakers squad of 2022 to the 2004 Lakers squad that he played on. He said that this team is really giving me that Karl Malone Gary Payton when they were with Kobe, that kind of feel.
The Los Angeles Lakers have put together a lineup that would have dominated the NBA a decade ago. The Lakers believed throughout the summer that their 2020-21 NBA team would not be capable of a championship run, particularly following their exit from the 2021 NBA playoffs.
So, with the exception of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Talen Horton-Tucker, the Lakers released all of their players during the summer. The first major acquisition was former MVP Russell Westbrook, who was acquired by moving players to the Washington Wizards.
Then they went out and signed a slew of experienced players. The Lakers re-signed Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, and Avery Bradley. They also signed DeAndre Jordan and Carmelo Anthony, the latter being one of their most significant signings.
Former players Stephen Jackson and Paul Pierce discussed the new-look Los Angeles Lakers in a recent interview (3:45 mark). Jackson praised Westbrook and Anthony’s acquisitions, saying they would be valuable additions to the squad. But there would be ‘hell in LA’ if they couldn’t put together a championship run.
Pierce likened the 2021-22 Lakers to the 2003-04 Lakers, who won a championship by bringing in experienced players like Karl Malone and Gary Payton. Given how ball-dominant both players are, he questioned how the pairing of LeBron James and Russell Westbrook would work.
“It’s good to see Melo get a chance to win a championship,” Jackson said. “It’s also good to see Russ, LeBron, and AD get together; as a basketball fan and a former NBA player, seeing those three guys on the court in the same uniform is exciting to see… but if they don’t win a championship, it’s going to be hell in LA.”
Pierce: “This squad is giving me that Karl Malone, Garry Payton feeling when they were with Kobe… If they stay healthy, they should reach the finals, but there’s a warning flag there: they’re older, and how will Westbrook fit in with LeBron? Westbrook has been the ball-dominant player, but LeBron is going to have the ball in his hands, I’m sorry, he’s still 26/7/7 every night, can Westbrook make the adjustment, and that’s what we have to find out?”
While the Lakers have a number of veterans on their roster, they aren’t the whole team. They felt it was essential to add some youth to the squad, so they signed Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk. The Lakers assembled an amazing team that included some of the greatest players in NBA history.
Russell Westbrook bombed in his first official game with the Lakers, and the Lakers had a rough start to the season. Despite LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ heroics, the Lakers were defeated by the Warriors. LeBron wants to move on from this, so he urged Russ to forget about it when he got home.
Former All-Stars Westbrook, Anthony, Howard, Rondo, and Jordan are all beyond their primes. They have, however, shown that they can make a significant contribution to an NBA club. The Los Angeles Lakers are widely regarded as one of the favorites to win the NBA title this season.
The 03-04 lakers finals is a comparison between the Lakers squad of today, and the 2004 Lakers squad. Paul Pierce compared the two teams, saying that this team is really giving him that Karl Malone Gary Payton when they were with Kobe, that kind of feel.
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