While four-time NBA MVP LeBron James was undoubtedly the Los Angeles Lakers’ key acquisition ahead of the 2018-19 NBA season, the team didn’t exactly surround the superstar forward with comparable veteran talent. Some pundits even gave the foursome of Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Lance Stephenson the nickname of the “Meme Team” because of their history of on- and off-court issues. However, a new report suggests that an anonymous source went a bit further by derisively comparing the quartet of newly signed veterans to one of the most memorable television characters of the 1990s.
In an article that compared the 2018-19 Lakers to a “reality-show match made in heaven,” ESPN The Magazine writer Pablo Torre recalled the hype that surrounded James’ decision to sign a four-year contract with the Lakers as a free agent, and the scrutiny the team received after signing Rondo, Stephenson, McGee, and Beasley in chronological order. Torre noted that the Lakers received a lot of criticism for signing the so-called “Meme Team” due to their past antics, despite the fact that all four were signed to one-year deals.
Aside from citing theories suggesting that the Lakers made the signings to deflect attention from a potential failure to contend against the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, Torre quoted an unnamed “Western Conference source,” who compared Beasley, McGee, Rondo, and Stephenson to Jaleel White’s nerdy, goofy Steve Urkel character from the 1990s sitcom, Family Matters.
“If the Lakers were Family Matters, this would be like adding four f**king Urkels.”
— LakeShow (@LA__LakeShow) October 20, 2018
As recalled by ESPN and the New York Post, Stephenson gained the most notoriety during his time in the Indiana Pacers, as he taunted then-Miami Heat star LeBron James by blowing in his ear during the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. McGee, who recently played a key off-the-bench role for the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals, likewise earned infamy earlier this decade for his numerous on-court bloopers, as showcased on TNT’s Shaqtin’ A Fool segment. Rondo, while formerly an All-Star with the Boston Celtics, is now known for his alleged temper tantrums and chemistry issues with teammates, while Beasley had previously racked up an arrest for alleged marijuana possession during his time with the Phoenix Suns in 2013.
Despite the aforementioned concerns, the Lakers got good performances from McGee and Rondo on Thursday, as the team opened the 2018-19 NBA season with a 128-119 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. McGee scored 13 points and pulled down eight rebounds as the team’s starting center, while Rondo started ahead of Lonzo Ball and registered 13 points and a game-high 11 assists. Stephenson and Beasley were used sparingly, with the former scoring four points in 16 minutes and the latter going scoreless in two minutes off the bench.