Los Angeles Lakers Carmelo Anthony Loves Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers Comparison

LOS ANGELES — Before the Lakerseven had any official training this season, let alone playing in a game, LeBron James told his teammates that they reminded him of another veteran group led by an aging legend: Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady’s Bucs lost their first game together in the quarterback’s first season away from the New England Patriots and were only 7-5 overall before catching fire. After winning the last four games of the regular season, Tampa Bay went 4-0 in the postseason, finishing with a 31-9 victory in Super Bowl LV over the favorite Kansas City Chiefs.

James believed the Lakers—who traded for Russell Westbrook in the off-season and added a handful of veteran vets like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan and Trevor Ariza to the mix—would have a similar ride in store.

At a player-hosted voluntary mini-camp in Las Vegas in September, James shared the prediction with his new teammates.

Anthony said, after the Lakers practice on Tuesday, it was a fitting comparison.

“Just from the point of view of starting slow and having new guys on the team. New system. Guys trying to figure it out, guys trying to figure out how to play with LeBron and [Anthony Davis] and now with Russ and just now everyone is figuring out what their role is,” he told reporters on a video conference call. “And what made it beautiful for the Bucs is that once it came together, it came together and you saw what happened to That.”

The Lakers reached midseason on Sunday when they lost 127-119 to the Memphis Grizzlies in a game they were 29 points behind. At 21-20, LA is currently number 7 in the Western Conference.

“It was just to prepare for whatever happens, whatever happens,” Anthony said. “I think we were, I don’t want to say we were prepared for it” [difficult] moments and those times mentally and emotionally, but yeah, those were conversations that happened.”

The Lakers’ backup guard, Wayne Ellington, said James’ example of Tampa Bay is something he’s trusted as the Lakers have cleared their chunks.

“Everyone was like, ‘Oh no!’ And suddenly, [the Buccaneers] take a step at the right time. In the end I won the whole thing,” Ellington said. “And that’s one of the things I always go back to when you see how our season is going so far. And stay positive and stay professional, man.

“Understanding that this thing could be spinning in the right direction pretty quickly for us.”

LA is having a relatively easy week with only two games scheduled: in Sacramento on Wednesday and in Denver on Friday.

It gives Davis (sprained MCL in his left knee) and Kendrick Nunn (bruising of the bone in his right knee) more time to continue their rehab without missing as much play action.

The Lakers are expected to release an injury update on Davis on Friday, which will be four weeks since he was hurt when Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels fell on him. Nunn, who has missed the entire season, is expected to be back in the lineup before the end of January, sources told ESPN.

In a few weeks, the Lakers could be in full season health for the first time, with 2 1/2 months left for the postseason to come to a close, as did the Bucs.

“It’s a great comparison. It’s something we look forward to. We listen to it, we hear it. It’s a great comparison,” Anthony said. “I don’t think it’s something we think about on a daily basis. We just kind of have an analogy to compare it to, and what better team and what better situation can we compare it to than what the Bucs did last year?”

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