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Carmelo Anthony says Lakers not winning title would be like Team USA losing in 2004 Olympics

Lakers Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James

EL SEGUNDO, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: Anthony Davis #3, LeBron James #6, Carmelo Anthony #7 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers poses for a portrait during NBA Media day at UCLA Health Training Center on September 28, 2021 in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers are absolutely loaded with big-names players:

  • LeBron James
  • Anthony Davis
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Dwight Howard
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • DeAndre Jordan
  • Rajon Rondo

That group has combined for 48 All-NBA teams, smashing the previous record.

The 2004 Lakers had “just” 38 combined prior-season All-NBA selections (14 by Karl Malone, 10 by Shaquille O’Neal, 9 by Gary Payton, 5 by Kobe Bryant). After loading up their roster last season, the Nets had a mere 31.

Teams with the most prior-season All-NBA selections:

pbt 2022 lakers combined all-nba teams

All that accomplishment tends to invite high standards.

Which Anthony is embracing.

Anthony on “Million Dollaz Worth of Game":
This is probably the most important season ever. I done had important seasons, but this one right here, because I know what’s at stake. It ain’t no pressure, but I know what’s at stake. And if we don’t take advantage of this – you don’t get moments like this in life often.

We got to do it. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. If we don’t –

It’s going to be like when Team USA lost in 2004. It’s going to be that feeling. So, we’re going to have to get away for a little bit if we don’t make this happen.

So, I know what’s at stake. But that’s what make it fun, though.

The Lakers aren’t even title favorites. That’s Brooklyn.

But the Lakers’ star power raises expectations (not just internally from Anthony, who at 37 is running out of time to win his first championship).

Yet, this type of star power rarely translates to a title.

Among the 18 previous teams with more than 25 prior-season All-NBA selections, just two have won a title. However, Elgin Baylor’s 10 All-NBA selections count toward the 1972 Lakers’ total even though he retired early in the season. That leaves only the 2020 Lakers, who had 27 All-NBA selections between LeBron, Howard, Davis and Rondo.

A key reason these teams rarely win the title: By the time players accumulate so many individual honors, they’re often past their primes. See Anthony, Howard, Jordan, Rondo… and – if all goes wrong – even Westbrook and, dare I say it, LeBron.

LeBron has been around a long time. Nobody, not even LeBron, can be assumed to remain elite at age 36. He and Anthony even played on that bronze-medal 2004 Olympic team.

Team USA, of course, was heavily favored to win the 2004 Olympics after claiming gold in the previous three Games with NBA players. The Americans were unchallenged in 1992 and 1996 and barely challenged in 2000. The 2004 bronze was a massive disappointment.

Though it might feel differently to them, this season’s Lakers don’t near those expectations.