Comparing the 2012-13 Lakers to the 2003-04 Lakers

Todd PheiferAnalyst IIISeptember 15, 2012

EL SEGUNDO, CA - AUGUST 10:  Dwight Howard speaks after being introduced to the media as the newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers during a news conference at the Toyota Sports Center on August 10, 2012 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers aquired Howard from Orlando Magic in a four-team trade. In addition Lakers wil receive Chris Duhon and Earl Clark from the Magic.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have assembled what is generally referred to as a “super” team, now that Dwight Howard is finally in L.A. after what seemed like an eternity of speculation. 

The Lakers have done this before. Or have they?

Fans and media members love comparisons. Who can blame them? This is how we order our lives. We reference the past in order to make decisions about the future.

Our first tendency is to break down the roster and start comparing the squads position by position. The problem with this strategy is that it is not just about the numbers. It is about the style, attitude and mindset. 

Shaquille O’Neal versus Dwight Howard? Coincidentally, both came from Orlando—but that is just about where the comparisons end. Despite different strengths and varied approaches to the game, the two dominant big men definitely have the need for the ball in common.

Pau Gasol versus Karl Malone? Nobody would mistake one for the other. Malone was a traditional back-to-the-basket power forward, whereas Pau is part of the new breed of big men who can play a lot of roles on the floor. 

Steve Nash versus Gary Payton? When you think of Nash, you think of a pure distributor. In contrast, "The Glove" invokes images of lock-down defense. Both could score, but each had a unique methodology. 

Kobe Bryant versus Kobe Bryant? Even this is a difficult comparison. It would be unfair to suggest that Kobe is the one constant. The Kobe Bryant of nine years ago is not the Kobe Bryant of today. People change.

What went wrong in 2003-04? They just didn't win the title. It's not as if they were a complete failure. The problem is that when you put together that much Hall of Fame talent, the expectations can basically be title-or-bust. 

Will some fans consider the team a failure if this squad doesn't get a ring? Probably. However, some of that is due to the expectations of the Southern California fanbase. 

We have to remember that basketball is about chemistry. It is not just about talent or a desire to win. Sometimes we treat real-life basketball like a video game. We assume that all we have to do is fool the computer into allowing us to trade all the superstars onto our team. The NBA is not necessarily like that. 

Could the Lakers win? Certainly. However, the Thunder and the Heat are still pretty good. Kobe, Howard, Gasol, Nash and the rest of the Lakers need to get into a groove. If there is drama, selfishness or a demand for touches, this dream team could implode.   

Comparisons are tricky. We will have to wait until June to see if this squad of superstars can do what the prior assemblage could not.