LeBron James says Lakers can turn it around, just like Tom Brady's Super Bowl-winning Buccaneers
"It's a great comparison," forward Carmelo Anthony told reporters Tuesday. "What better team and what better situation to compare it to than what the Bucs did last year?"
After a lackluster 7-5 start, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their final four games of the regular season and hit their stride right before the playoffs. Tampa Bay went 4-0 in the postseason and won Super Bowl 55 over the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs, marking Brady's first Super Bowl win away from the New England Patriots.
The Lakers are also off to an average start. After trading for Russell Westbrook in the offseason and picking up NBA veterans Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza, the Lakers have struggled to find a rhythm despite James' best efforts. They are 21-20 at the midpoint of the season and No. 7 in the West.
But, James has faith that his team will get hot at the right time and win big, just like Brady's Bucs. He told his team so before the season even began, according to Anthony.
"Just from the standpoint of starting off 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 incorporating Russ and just now everybody figuring out what their role is," Anthony said. "And what made it beautiful for the Bucs is that once it came together, it came together and you saw what happened with that."
Anthony said James' preseason prediction readied the team for a tenacious battle this season.
"It was just kind of preparing ourselves for whatever happens, whatever comes along," Anthony said. "I think we were, I don't want to say prepared for those (difficult) moments and those times mentally and emotionally, but yeah, those were conversations that were happening."
Guard Wayne Ellington, another veteran picked up in the offseason, said James' comparison of their team to the Buccaneers has served as a source of motivation to tap into during the rough patches.
"Everybody was like, 'Oh no!' And all of a sudden, (the Buccaneers) hit a stride at the right time. Ended up winning the whole thing," Ellington said. "And that's one of the things I always reach back to, when you see how our season's going so far. And remaining positive and remaining professional, man."
Ellington added, "Understanding that this thing can turn in the right direction pretty quickly for us."
The Lakers are looking to do so in the back half of the season. They face Sacramento on Wednesday and Denver on Saturday.