Lakers Examiner: With Sunday’s win over the Rockets, the Lakers continued their perfect season. Luckily they didn’t lose, or else Laker fans would have hunted me down for jinxing them in my “When will the Lakers lose?” article.
The Lakers start a season 5-0 for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign. That year they picked up a couple of veterans, Gary Payton and Karl Malone, in an effort to get back to the finals.
As any Laker fan knows, it worked, but Payton’s poor play and Malone’s injuries led to a 4-1 thumping at the hands of the Detroit Pistons, effectively ending Shaq’s run in Los Angeles and the Lakers dynasty as we knew it.
Despite being 40 and 35, respectively, Malone and Payton helped lead the Lakers to a 56-26 record, highlighting the impact that veteran players can have on a team.
With Veterans Day coming up, I thought it would be appropriate to recognize some Laker veterans whose impact may not have been as obvious.
Aaron McKie, 2005-07, 13-year vet. At the age of 33, McKie was an instrumental part of the post-Shaq Lakers revival, providing an essential veteran influence on the young Lakers. Most of his presence was felt in the locker room, however, as he only played in 24 games in two seasons. McKie “led” the Lakers to the playoffs in both his years, but they were beaten in the first round both times by the Phoenix Suns. Unfortunately, McKie didn’t use the same veteran savvy when attempting to purchase a gun last June.