- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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World Peace, who did in fact help the Lakers repeat in 2010, is putting that same pressure on himself once again as this year's team (20-26) struggles despite a league-high payroll of nearly $100 million.
"I came to L.A. for this," World Peace told ESPNLA 710 Radio's "Max & Marcellus Show" on Thursday. "I could have went to Memphis or New Orleans where the media market is low and you're not going to get as crucified.
"I came here for this. You don't come to L.A. not to want to be crucified when you lose. You come to L.A. for that pressure and that's why we're here. You got to really enjoy it. This is a beautiful time, like I kept telling my teammates. We can't be in a better situation. We can write world history. This is world history that we can write and we have the chance to do it."
World Peace was referring to statements he made to the media following the Lakers' win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
"It's a fact that we got a chance to make world history here," he said. "We got a great situation. We got a chance to make history. This is a beautiful situation to be in, the situation we're in. This is beautiful."
World Peace placed high expectations on these new-look Lakers ever since they came together in the offseason with the acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, saying they would break the Chicago Bulls' record of 72 wins in a season.
While the best the Lakers could do at this point is 56-26 -- and they'd have to finish 36-0 to do that -- World Peace told ESPNLA 710 that his confidence in his teammates has not wavered.
"Nothing's changed as far as the way I'm thinking," World Peace said. "I still believe 100 percent that we're the best team. I think the team that we have is very unique. I don't know if there's ever been a team put together like this, first off. Even those old Bulls teams, obviously you had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, but on this team there's like six All-Stars. So, that's not an easy task to coach.
"Coach (Mike) Brown tried early on, and it's hard to get everybody's egos on one page. So that's a difficult job. Obviously, when Bernie (Bickerstaff) took over, Bernie just said, 'You guys, go figure it out.' And then when coach (Mike) D'Antoni came in, he had a little bit more structure, but he's grabbing, he's getting ahold of it right now as we speak. So it's not an easy thing to do, to coach these really good players."
While World Peace is right on the All-Star count for this team (he, Nash, Howard, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Antawn Jamison all have made the game in the past), the Lakers are in line for a dubious All-Star distinction this season. They could become just the fourth team since the 1976-77 NBA-ABA merger to have two All-Star starters (Bryant and Howard) and miss the playoffs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, joining the 2005-06 Houston Rockets (Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady), the 2002-03 Rockets (Yao and Steve Francis) and the 1977-78 Boston Celtics (Dave Cowens and John Havlicek).
The Lakers are four games behind the Rockets for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff picture heading into Friday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
7dEthan Sherwood Strauss