Even thought the Lakers made #6 on the top ten list, it’s still an impressive feat to beat 3 of the top 4 teams (4. Blazers, 3. Spurs, 2. Kings).
Yahoo! Sports: Los Angeles Lakers, 2003-04 – This could have been an all-time team, one of the greats, had everything come together. Nothing came together, though. Nothing came close. Everything fell apart, badly, but not before the Lakers made it all the way to the NBA Finals, as favorites, before losing to the Detroit Pistons. Los Angeles signed Gary Payton(notes) and Karl Malone to cheap-o contracts before the season started, hoping to fill positions that had been skunked by Tim Duncan(notes) and Tony Parker(notes) the season before, but those esteemed transactions were more than mitigated by the news of Kobe Bryant’s(notes) legal troubles in Colorado during the summer of 2003.
Bryant’s troubles marred the season, as he grew increasingly insular, and, to his coaching staff and teammates, erratic and selfish on the court. Payton never learned the offense, Shaquille O’Neal was never in shape, and Karl Malone (the lone good soldier on this squad) had to deal with two devastating freak knee injuries in December (with the Lakers rolling along at 20 and 5) and in June (with Los Angeles about to make the Finals).
Also considered: Los Angeles Lakers, 2007-08