“The Lakers are a retirement home.”
“The Lakers are the oldest team in the league.”
“The Lakers’ roster has more mileage combined than a 2003 Honda Civic.”
The Lakers have heard it all. The jokes, memes and punchlines about their newly constructed roster have dominated headlines and sports talk shows all summer. And they don’t care. The team has been laughing along, and following what their captain LeBron James has done throughout his career — use the narrative as fuel and motivation to start the season.
“The narrative about our age, I kind of laugh at it. I actually really do laugh, I’m not just saying that. Some of the memes and some of the jokes have been extremely funny, and then some of it is just trying to get people to read tabloids,” James, who’s turning 37-years-old this year, said.
“But the game is won in between those four lines,” James continued. “Tt’s not won on the bottom ticker. It’s not won in the newspaper. And it’s not won on sports talk shows and things of that nature. If we come out and we put the time in, and we put the work in, we’ll make our own narrative.”
The team is entering the season with an average age of 30.9 but they’re betting on their collective experience, IQ and mentality to spark them. And in fairness to them, this is a team that has a total of 8 championships, 5 MVP awards, 56 all-star appearances, 4 scoring titles, 126,000 points and 31,000 assists all together.
So when most guys on this Lakers roster say they’ve made their mark in the league and have enough experience, they’re not kidding around.
Which is why, despite what their age on paper implies, head coach Frank Vogel is bullish on the fact that majority of his “old” players are still capable of delivering when the defensive-minded coach needs them the most.
And it’s not hard to blame Vogel for preferring experience over youth, especially if his goal is to get his players to buy-in to his system and principles, sacrifice for the team’s success, and limit their game by only contributing what they do best. That’s why he said on “The Lakeshow” podcast that he doesn’t even look at this team’s collective age.
“I mean, we have great players on our team, you know what I mean? And yes, some of them are towards the end of their career, but they’re still producing at a high level, and if you’re still producing at a high level it doesn’t matter how old you are. So I don’t really care for the narrative. Some guys are going to use it as motivation. I just think we’ve got a good team that has a chance to be great if we come together, and that’s how I look at it.”
Moreover, it’s also important to point out that the last Lakers team led by Vogel that won the championship had an average age of 29.1 — just approximately 1.8 younger than this current Lakers roster. That same championship squad was commended for their remarkable on and off-court chemistry, and their ability to withstand what was arguably the most challenging season an organization has ever had to endure.
That’s why It’s fair to argue that when push comes to shove, it’s experienced veterans who can be counted on most, anyway.
When the team badly needs a three, it’s the Trevor Arizas, Wayne Ellingtons, and Kent Bazemores of the world who won’t hesitate to shoot. Or that won’t demand to start the moment they’re acquired by a team that just won a championship. These are the type of players who will likely show up and shine in a crucial playoff game, or when the team is on the brink of elimination — because they’ve seen and done it all throughout their careers.
Carmelo Anthony has been through all the highs and lows in his storied 18-year career. With one (possibly last) shot to win a championship that would further solidify his already hall-of-fame-worthy career, the now role player chose a veteran-laden roster to achieve an accolade he’s desired for all his life.
“As far as the age goes, it’s definitely not bulletin-worthy. It’s funny. Actually, it is funny, because this is the only kind of lane and genre where you’ve got to be a certain age to be successful or be great,” Anthony said. He can’t help but chuckle when the Lakers’ age is brought up.
So for as many jokes and memes there were about the Lakers’ overall age this summer, the team has taken it all in stride. They may be old, but they’re not “get off my lawn” level cranky yet, and the belief they have in their overall potential is stronger than the criticisms and doubts that have been projected on them all summer.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani