Carmelo Anthony: These Lakers are title or bust

By Kristian Winfield

What’s true in Brooklyn is also true in Los Angeles, at least says Carmelo Anthony, who joined LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook in the Lakers’ pursuit of an NBA title.

The Nets have not shied away from setting championship expectations for a roster headlined by Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Anthony, who joined the Lakers this offseason after two seasons in Portland, affirmed the idea that it’s championship or bust for the purple and gold.

“It’s got to be. It has to be,” he told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday. “There’s no playing around with that.”

Anthony also made it clear that he doesn’t intend to retire from the game without winning at least one championship, a change of pace, he says, from his mindset in earlier years. The veteran forward has not made it to the conference finals since his 2009 season with the Denver Nuggets. He led the Knicks to a second-round exit in 2013 and has not been out of the first round in any of his three subsequent playoff appearances, one with the Oklahoma City Thunder and another two with the Trail Blazers.

“If I were just to walk away from the game before, then I would have been at peace with that. I would have been cool with that. I tried to win a championship. It just doesn’t work out for everybody,” Anthony said. “But now, that perspective is totally different. Now I have to win. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about that. So I know what that does. I know the pressure that puts on us as a team and as an organization, but what other pressure do you want? We want to go out there. We want the target on our backs.”

Standing in the former Knicks star’s way are a number of teams. The Los Angeles Clippers have their two stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and could even be a threat to trade for John Wall, who is available for trade in Houston. The Nets, of course, are current championship favorites and shored their reserves with a key addition of Patty Mills. The Milwaukee Bucks are the reigning NBA champions led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Phoenix Suns eliminated the short-handed Lakers in the first round last season before their storybook run to the Finals.

“I can’t take nothing away from what Brooklyn has built, and what the Clippers have built. You can’t take away what Milwaukee has done, either,” he said. “Everybody’s getting better. Nobody’s saying it’s gonna be easy, but this might be one of the most exciting seasons in the NBA in a long time. A lot of the teams have gotten better, they added pieces to their core group of guys.”

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