TNT’s Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal Believe Lakers Must Win Now

As arguably the team with the most pressure to win immediately headed into the 2012-13 NBA season, the new-look Los Angeles Lakers will be under a microscope from now until June; if they make it that far.

With the additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, the consensus has been that the Lakers are built to win a championship this season and perhaps the next. Along with Nash signing three-year deal with Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will be under contract next season while it appears that Howard is leaning towards re-signing with the team next summer.

Needless to say, nothing short of a trip to the NBA Finals this season and the next is expected of this veteran team filled with superstars. NBA legend and TNT analyst Charles Barkley said the following about the Lakers heading into the season via Vincent Bonsignore of L.A. Daily News:

“There’s a ton of pressure on Mike Brown,” said Charles Barkley, a TNT analyst. “The Lakers have to win now.”

With the talented roster that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has been able to build around Kobe, there’s no question that it’s NBA Finals or bust this season. The Lakers’ front office has gone all-in with the recent additions and willingness to pay a huge luxury tax as a result.

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Former Laker Shaquille O’Neal also agrees with Barkley’s opinion about the Lakers coach Mike Brown and the immediate future of the team with the revamped roster:

Shaquille O’Neal, also a TNT analyst, agreed.

“There is a ton of pressure to win in L.A.” O’Neal said. “Now.”

Although there will almost certainly be a few bumps in the road along the way for the Lakers with Howard, Nash, Kobe and Pau Gasol learning to play together, the end result will have some consequences as Brown will be on the hot seat right out of the gate and Howard may ultimately decide to sign elsewhere for less money if the chemistry isn’t working in Los Angeles.

There’s a long way to go from now until the end of the season for the new-look Lakers, but one thing is for certain, the spotlight will be pointed in the direction of this storied franchise with enormous pressure to dominate the competition this season.

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Check out what Mike Brown had to say about Kobe being “chippy” in practice today.
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