America’s team is an often heard phrase in reference to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Each league has some version of an America’s team, but no team has ownership of the label quite like the Cowboys. Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Stanley Johnson tried to bring the debate to the NBA.
Despite having many teams that are extremely popular in both America and the world, the NBA has never had a defined America’s team. It has shifted over time depending on a number of factors. The Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era fit this description, as did the Golden State Warriors for a time when their current dynasty was first beginning.
But Johnson argues that the Lakers are truly America’s team, and he goes into depth as to why the Lakers and not other teams on the Run Your Race podcast via Tidal League:
Who is America’s team in the NBA? 🤔
“The Lakers is. What would it be? The Celtics? No one thinks the Knicks…New generation guys think about the Warriors first.”
— Tidal League (@TidalLeague) September 26, 2023
Some teams brought up during Johnson’s discussion with the Run Your Race podcast hosts are the Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Warriors. Johnson immediately erases the Knicks from the discussion, saying that younger generations have not seen the impact of Knicks basketball beyond the “Mecca of basketball” catchphrase.
The Knicks have been to the postseason just six times since 2001 and have made two NBA Finals (both losses) since their last championship in 1973. Johnson says the Celtics have a legitimate argument, as do the Warriors for the younger generation.
But the ultimate answer for the former Laker is the purple and gold. The Lakers have far-reaching impact that is a perfect storm of team success, individual superstars and very rare down times. The Lakers have missed the playoffs just 12 times in franchise history and have 17 NBA championships, tied for the Celtics with the most in NBA history.
But unlike the Celtics, the Lakers championship success has been much more recent. The Lakers have six championships since 2000 while the Celtics have only one. Determining an America’s team is an impossible task at this stage, but Johnson is very confident of L.A.’s place in the discussion.
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