It’s commonly believed that superteams were launched roughly a decade ago, but one particular legend thinks the idea came to fruition well before that.
Gary Payton played for the Lakers from 2003-04, clearly joining Los Angeles in search of a championship ring. He didn’t get one there, but the Lakers had won three consecutive titles before he arrived.
The Lakers getting upset by the Pistons in the NBA Finals really was shocking, especially since they had a number of Hall of Famers on their roster, including Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Payton, Karl Malone and others. It was the first time the NBA had seen a number of All-Stars flock to sign with one particular team, and if you ask Payton, they were the league’s first superteam.
“That was an interesting year. When me and Karl [Malone] signed with the Lakers, I was coming for Shaq, and Karl was coming for me. So we were coming together. That was probably the first superteam with the four of us,” Payton said on “Nothing Personal with David Samson.” “We were looking forward to that. Then you know what happened with Kobe. He got into a situation. Then you know what happened with Shaq. He got into a situation with Dr. Buss. So everything was kind of not meant to be. It was up in the atmosphere and God probably didn’t want it to happen.”
Payton does raise some good points, and we’re buying that the Lakers were the league’s first superteam — rather than the 2010-13 Miami Heat — even though they came up short on winning a title. The roster was loaded with talent from top to bottom.