For the Los Angeles Lakers, it is win or die in 2021. But above all, to show that the championship of a couple of seasons ago was not causality.
The Lakers return with a veteran team, anchored of course by LeBron James, and seconded by Anthony Davis, while healthy; added to the brand new hiring of Russell Westbrook, as the best cover letters of him.
Behind and in the final part of their careers will be Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony and DeAndre Jordan, one of many players remaking the Lakers roster for this season.
“We go out and put in the time, we put in the work,” James told reporters at the opening of preseason camp. “We make our own narrative. One thing we know is who we are. We have a group of guys who have been in this league for a long time, who understand and know what it takes to win. “
“In the business we are in, it’s about winning and doing it all the time,” he added.
The Lakers acknowledged and even complained that the hasty “bubble” season at the resumption of the 2019-2020 season, when the Coronavirus pandemic broke out, was too exhausting and that the celebration had not yet ended when they had to report to training. for the next campaign.
Maybe they were right because it was the shortest offseason in league history; Heading to 2021 in which injury-ridden Lakers finished up to seventh place in the Western Conference and were quickly eliminated in the playoffs.
Only three players return from the season. Instead they meet up with old acquaintances like Rondo, Dwight Howard, Jordan, Trevor Ariza and Kent Bazemore, whom they’ve seen up close in the Western Conference for a long time.
Coach Frank Vogel is returning for his third season and also hopes juniors Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn can be the players to give veterans some breathing space.
“We all have to understand what we play and who we have,” Vogel said. “We are a different team, with experience, but perhaps already with different dynamism and rhythm of play that a veteran team brings, with players who have won many basketball games here and elsewhere.”
LeBron James’ new hat trick is different now than when he began to become fashionable to hang out with friends or at least colleagues who were still in their prime. Not only because he himself is already close to two decades in the league or that Davis’ great constant is injuries since he was in New Orleans, but now Westbrook has arrived, who is still very fast and likes to have too much of the ball in his hands. hands.
James said he was not worried about finding a rhythm with Westbrook, who traded to his hometown from the Washington Wizards, after again averaging triple-double in 2020-21 for what will be his 14th season in the NBA.
“I’m very cerebral about what I need to do for our team to be as great as it can be,” said James. “I also know that we need to complement Russel and what he brings to the table. I know it’s not overnight either. Everything is part of a process and a lot of work on my part ”.
The 32-year-old Westbrook arrives motivated to be part of his hometown (Long Beach) and college (UCLA) team that he confessed to being a lifelong fan.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to see myself play for the Lakers and come back home,” Westbrook said. “But I will continue to do what I have always done, play to win and be an inspiration to as many people as possible.”
“But the most important thing is that they brought me home to win championships.”