The 2004 Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA were a superteam. They won an unprecedented 3 consecutive championships and captured numerous awards, including MVPs and Finals MVPs. They had arguably the greatest collection of talent in basketball history at their disposal which included Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Shawn Bradley, Eddie Jones and Karl Malone among others. However they failed to win back-to-back titles because of one big flaw: chemistry problems that led to too many egos clashing for control on the court
The “lakers super team 2004” is a story of the Los Angeles Lakers’ failed attempt at assembling a superteam. The Lakers had some high-profile players, but they were unable to find success.
Over the last decade, the NBA has been flooded by superteams. Superteams have made the game more entertaining for certain viewers. It’s impossible to ignore all of this great power on a single squad.
It has harmed the league in the eyes of other supporters. Basketball teams used to be well-balanced. One or two stars, with a slew of terrific supporting characters.
It doesn’t matter which style you choose since the “period of the superteams” is here to stay.
Take a look at the top two teams for the next NBA season in 2021-22: the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets.
On paper, the Lakers appear like a cheat sheet with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook. With Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, the Brooklyn Nets aren’t far behind.
That’s a lot of skill on one squad, but how long has the superteam been together? Most people believe LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh teamed up in Miami in 2010.
This was not the first time a superteam was put together. Although it did create a new trend, I wouldn’t call it the first superteam.
What about the Boston Celtics of 2008? This was the squad that prompted LeBron to join forces with Wade and Bosh in Miami. However, I’d pass on the 2008 Celtics as well.
Despite the presence of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, I would not consider them the first superteam.
Many fans remember the Lakers squads from the 1980s. It’s easy to understand why people would think that with Magic, Kareem, and James Worthy.
I wouldn’t say they were, but neither would I say they were. In 1975, Kareem wanted a trade from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Until Magic Johnson was chosen in 1979, the Lakers had a lot of ups and downs as a team. They went on to win the NBA title in a few of weeks.
The Lakers then became the top team of the decade after drafting James Worthy in 1982.
A club that selected the majority of its players isn’t considered a superteam. A superteam is formed when players intentionally team up with other players in order to increase their chances of winning.
As a result, the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers became the first superteam to be labeled as such.
In July 1996, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Shaquille O’Neal from the Orlando Magic, and then picked Kobe Bryant out of high school.
In only a few years, the Lakers would be the best team in the NBA. They’d win three consecutive championships in 2000-02, following in the footsteps of the best team of the 1990s, the Chicago Bulls.
Then came the year 2003. The Los Angeles Lakers were the favorites to win the championship, but Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs had other plans.
Tim Duncan and the Spurs won the NBA championship in 1999, but not everyone thought it was legitimate.
Shaquille O’Neal had this to say about the Spurs winning the NBA championship in 1999:
“I won a title in each of the years 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2006, and I did it the proper way each time. The right way to do things. For example, I would not have taken it if we had won the title in 1999. It isn’t a true season.”
Shaq went on to say that the 1999 San Antonio Spurs championship would always be marked with a “asterisk.” Shaq claims this is due to the NBA season being cut short due to the lockout.
Duncan was determined to show he was a true champion by the time the Spurs played Shaq’s Lakers in the semifinals of the 2003 NBA playoffs.
In 2003, the Spurs were seeded first, while the Lakers were seeded fifth. That didn’t stop the majority of fans from betting on the Lakers to win.
The series then began, with the Spurs taking an early 2-0 lead. After the Lakers tied the series by defending their home floor, the Spurs won the following two games to eliminate the Lakers’ chances of completing a four-peat.
There was a lot of speculation that Kobe and Shaq didn’t get along. Isn’t this the reason they were defeated? What would the Lakers do to reclaim their title?
These questions reverberated across Hollywood and the NBA. These questions would be answered by the Lakers throughout the summer.
Gary Payton and Karl Malone, both future Hall of Famers, were signed by the purple and gold to play alongside Shaq and Kobe.
Some have said, and continue to claim, that this Lakers team featured one of the finest starting lineups in NBA history.
The focus of the media should have been on Payton and Malone’s signings, and the Lakers’ focus should have been on winning another championship.
However, in July 2003, the basketball world would be shocked to receive some unexpected news. Kobe Bryant has been charged with sexual assault.
This news report caused a stir in the sports world, and it made life difficult for the new-look Lakers.
Despite the Kobe Bryant sexual assault lawsuit, Karl Malone’s 39-game knee injury, and the Shaq-Kobe animosity reaching an all-time peak, the Lakers ended with the second-best record in the western conference (56-26).
The Lakers quickly cruised through the Houston Rockets in the playoffs, winning the series 4-1:
First Round of the Western Conference
– Rockets 71, Lakers 72
– Los Angeles Lakers 98, Houston Rockets 84
– Lakers 91, Rockets 102
– Rockets 88, Lakers 92 (OT)
– Rockets 78, Lakers 97
In the semifinals, the Lakers were pitted against the San Antonio Spurs for the second time.
Things would be different this time. The Spurs would go up 2-0 in the series, but the Lakers would not drop another game. They came out on top 4-2 in the series.
Semifinals of the Western Conference
– Spurs 88, Lakers 78; Spurs 88, Lakers 78; Spurs 88, Lakers
– Spurs 95, Lakers 85; Spurs 95, Lakers 85; Spurs 95, Lakers 85
– Los Angeles Lakers 105, San Antonio Spurs 81
– Los Angeles Lakers 98, San Antonio Spurs 90
– Spurs 73, Lakers 74
– Spurs 76, Lakers 88
The Lakers’ superteam would meet Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Conference Finals, with Garnett being named NBA MVP for the 2003-04 season.
The Lakers were too much for Garnett and the Timberwolves, winning the series 4-2 in overtime.
Finals of the Western Conference
– Timberwolves 88, Lakers 97
– Lakers 71, Timberwolves 89
– Timberwolves 89, Lakers 100
– Timberwolves 85, Lakers 92
– Lakers 96, Timberwolves 98
– Timberwolves 90, Lakers 96
The Los Angeles Lakers were big favorites when the Finals of the NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Detroit Pistons was announced.
The Lakers, with four NBA legends, vs. the Pistons, who didn’t have a single star, looked to be the largest mismatch in NBA history.
The series then began. The Lakers seemed to be overpowered by the Pistons’ suffocating defense.
The Pistons may have swept the Lakers if it hadn’t been for Kobe’s game-tying three in the fourth quarter that sent game two into overtime.
The Pistons would be content with a 4-1 series victory and the championship.
What are the chances of this happening? Is it possible for a superteam to lose against a team without a great player? This occurred because the Detroit Pistons were a “genuine” basketball team.
The Pistons possessed the ideal player for every position on the squad. In their locker room, there was no ego issue as there was in the Lakers’ locker room.
This allowed the Pistons to play as a unit, something the purple and gold superteam failed to achieve.
– The Pistons defeated the Lakers by a score of 87 to 75.
– Los Angeles Lakers 99, Detroit Pistons 91 (OT)
– Detroit Pistons 88, Los Angeles Lakers 68
– Detroit Pistons 88, Los Angeles Lakers 80
– Lakers 87, Pistons 100
After the season, the Lakers’ superteam would burst. Phil Jackson has been sacked as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Shaq wanted a trade and was eventually sent to the Miami Heat.
Gary Payton was traded to the Boston Celtics, while Karl Malone retired from the game.
Payton subsequently explains why the 2004 Lakers superteam was a flop, and he admits that his team was the NBA’s first superteam.
It’s difficult to disagree with an NBA champion and Hall of Fame basketball player, in my opinion.
The league may once again be dominated by superteams, but the 2021 Milwaukee Bucks victory may persuade general managers to reconsider. Maybe.
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In the 2004-2005 season, the Los Angeles Lakers won a record 66 games and had a starting lineup of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Robert Horry. The team was so dominant that they were able to win 4 consecutive championships. However, there is one reason why this team didn’t succeed: they were unable to put up points against the Detroit Pistons in the playoffs. Reference: 2004 lakers starting lineup.
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