Would the mid-90s Lakers beat the current squad?
You guys know the MO of SpreeGoogs: reference the 90s whenever possible. The golden era of mankind. It can only make your day better.
The first part of the decade wasn’t so much of a golden era for the Los Angeles Lakers though. It started off with an ass whooping in the NBA Finals to the Jordan’s Bulls which was not only the beginning of his dominance but also pretty much the end of the line for the likes of Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Scott, Cooper and Rambis.
And then when those guys started to retire or get old, the Lakers started to replace them with Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Elden Campbell and Vlade Divac.
It was around this time where I actually started watching basketball. And that’s how I defend that I am not a bandwagon Laker fan to people – I tell them I started liking them when this motley crew was gracing my television.
While they were a far cry from Showtime, they were definitely a fun team to watch. Somewhat of a mid-90s version of the current Golden State Warriors: they ran up and down the court, didn’t play much defense and was a solid playoff team that everybody knew they had no shot to win it all.
With how hard it has been to watch the Lakers this season, it only makes sense to remember the mid-90s Lakers teams in all of their glory and think about how they’d stack up to the current roster.
Point Guard: Nick Van Exel vs. Steve Nash
My homeboy Nick – the man whose last name comprises part of my blogging name. He was the most maddening player in that he could be so good and so awful. When he was on, he was unstoppable because of his left hand but when he was off he would just sabotage the team with all of the 3-pointers he jacked up and clunked. That being said, Nash wouldn’t be able to guard him (not unlike any other point guard ever). But Van Exel wouldn’t be able to slow Nash much either, especially if he were running pick and rolls all day with Dwight Howard. I’ll call this one a draw.
Shooting Guard: Eddie Jones vs. Kobe Bryant
Here we start to realize how old Kobe is. He was 17 when he joined the Lakers in 1996, and it signaled the beginning of the end for Jones. He was a decent player, with a very nice 3-point touch. He was rail thin though, and Kobe would just out-muscle him on his way to easy buckets. Advantage Kobe.
Small Forward: Cedric Ceballos vs. Metta World Peace
Ceballos was the best Lakers player in the mid-90s, averaging 21.2 points per game in the 94-95 season. It would certainly be a challenge for MWP, but not one he wouldn’t be up for. I’ll give the edge to Ceballos because I don’t think Metta would get enough on the offensive end to offset Ceballos’ output.
Power Forward: Elden Campbell vs. Pau Gasol
Gasol is a much more talented player that Campbell ever was. But with Pau aching like he is at the moment, it’s hard to know which version you are going to get out of him night-in and night-out. Plus, he has always struggled with power forwards who are thicker, so Campbell could give him some issues. Calling it even.
Center: Vlade Divac vs. Dwight Howard
This one makes me shake my head. Vlade obviously would be overmatched physically, but somehow he would find a way to weasel his way into making it a fair fight, just as he often did against Shaq when he was with the Kings. Maybe be would flop a bunch and get Dwight in foul trouble. Or get under his skin and get him ejected. Or maybe he would start talking in Yugoslavian accent and get Dwight laughing and distracted. I’ll give the edge to Dwight here, but ever so slightly.
The final count ends up being 2-1 current Lakers. But would they actually beat the mid-90s team? I don’t think so. That team played really well together, as evidenced by their 48-34 record in 94-95. The current version is just trying to make the playoffs. Just one more reason the 90s are awesome.