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Baseball Superteam Fuels Comparisons To Former Lakers Teams

scott mecum, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The word “superteam” often gets thrown around until you add forward Kevin Durant to a 73-9 Golden State Warriors team–a move that made, but also hurt, Durant’s legacy.

The most famous NBA superteam in recent memory came at the hands of Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James with his “decision” to end up with the Miami Heat. At the end of the day, James became a champion and built his legacy.

The same can’t be said for superteams across all major sports. That includes this year’s New York Mets: a team who stacked the payroll and have been so disappointing that experts have been comparing them to some not-so-memorable Lakers teams.

Baseball Superteam Draws Comparisons To Former Lakers Teams

The Lakers Are No Stranger to Disappointment 

Naturally, when playing in professional sports, failure happens. It’s not quite the failure of the Mets, who came into the 2023 season with a $350 million payroll, the largest in MLB history, and have now started shipping away their players.

Unlike baseball, superteams in basketball can cause quite a stir. The ability for a basketball player to takeover in any given moment draws little comparison to baseball.

To make matters harder, like postseason baseball, each game is a best of seven. A superteam could materialize in the NFL, but anything goes in a one-and-done scenario.

The earliest memory of a superteam for the Lakers goes all the way back to the 2003-04 season. The Lakers fell short of winning four championships in a row. To combat disappointment, they chose to boost their roster with Hall of Fame players Gary Payton and Karl Malone.

The tandem of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal alone was enough to give the league trouble. The Lakers made it to the Finals but were easily defeated by the Detroit Pistons.

The Lakers quickly moved on. They traded away Payton and Malone retired. It would be wise to think they learned from their mistakes, but the Lakers tried it again nearly a decade later.

A Double-Down of Disappointment

The uproar of the 2012 off-season was seeing where Chris Paul and Dwight Howard were going to land. Two of the best players in their respective positions and one off-season many Lakers fans want to forget.

The NBA vetoed a potential Paul trade to the Lakers, and he ended up with the Los Angeles Clippers. Not all hope was lost, as the Lakers still managed to land Howard as well as Steve Nash.

Going from one Hall of Fame point guard to another may seem to not be a huge downsize, but it was far from that. The Lakers were coming off back-to-back championships, and with Bryant and Pau Gasol at the helm, the sky seemed to be the limit.

A flurry of issues, including an early-season coaching change and an achilles injury that kept Bryant out of the playoffs, kept the Lakers at bay. They lost in a first-round sweep to the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

In the off-season, Howard left the team and Nash only suited up for 15 more games with the Lakers. It’s a big what-if to think what could have been different if Paul came to the Lakers. But with such a disastrous finish, it couldn’t have been much better.

The Last Word on Superteams

Building a superteam doesn’t mean automatic success. Whether its with a giant payroll or Hall of Fame athletes, everything needs to workout to win a championship.

While it may be easy to find success during the regular season, what matters is the postseason. These teams cemented themselves in history for being disappointing.

Superteams will continue to be a thing. The main job of any front office is to have the best team on paper, but it’s up to the players and coaches to win some games.

Much easier said than done.


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