With 10 championships and 16 Finals appearances since the 1979-1980 season, Angelenos expect the Lakers to be a title contender every year. Well, if you listen to the so-called experts, last year’s disappointing slump isn’t over yet. Still, as we learned at yesterday’s media day (held at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo), we shouldn’t give up on this season’s squad just because they might not be hoisting another banner anytime soon. Some of this hopeful excitement comes from the addition of former Lakers guard Byron Scott as head coach, and some from storylines emerging from the Lakers. These narratives, many of which don’t involve putting a ball through a hoop, will begin to play out Monday in San Diego with a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets and the regular season opener Oct. 28 at Staples Center versus the Houston Rockets. Here are 10 of the best could-be headlines we learned yesterday:
10. Ed Davis is tired of being confused for the other Ed Davis
Our Ed Davis is a 6’10’’ forward from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who signed with the Lakers during the offseason after spending four seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. But what’s important is the dude shares his name with the former commissioner of the Boston Police Department. Boston? Forget that noise. Every time the Lakers’ Ed Davis does anything on the court, Lakers fans need to tweet #lakerseddavis because the least we can do is beat the Celtics on social media.
9. Wayne Ellington is distantly related to Duke Ellington…
So much so that the 6’4’’ player waves his hand away from his body to explain how far away the bloodline runs. Still, there’s a guy on the Lakers related to Duke freakin’ Ellington. That’s pretty awesome.
8. Ryan Kelly also has a name thing going on
Luckily for Ryan Kelly, there’s hope and that hope is the fact that Ryan Kelly just as easily could be called “R. Kelly.” And any time R. Kelly comes up in conversation, it’s an excuse to sing “Ignition (Remix),” which just might be the greatest song ever. Sadly, the Lakers’ R. Kelly says no one ever gives him a “toot toot” when he enters the club. This has to change.
7. Can Jordan Hill get more playing time?
Last season, there was one man in Los Angeles who didn’t think Jordan Hill, a 6’10’’ forward/center from the University of Arizona, deserved more playing time. That man was Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni. With Scott now at the helm, Hill should get more burn. He’s like Kurt Rambis if Kurt Rambis had tattoos. He’s like A.C. Green if A.C. Green was built like a brick wall. He’s like Mark Madsen if Mark Madsen sported dreadlocks. Speaking of Mark Madsen…
6. Assistant coach Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen is the nicest man on the planet
I was about to ask him a question when Kobe Bryant and a whole bunch of journalists and photographers came walking toward us. Madsen told me to look out for the rush and then we were separated. I assumed he’d get lost in the crowd, but he didn’t. He made eye contact with me and motioned with his hand as if to say, “I haven’t forgotten about you.” When the Kobe tidal wave was done rolling through, Madsen apologized—as if he had anything to do with the melee—which was a very kind gesture. Then I ruined the moment by asking a less than worthy question about whether or not he could still take some of the current roster.
5. Xavier Henry is starving
On paper, Lakers forward/guard Xavier Henry’s name looks like it should be pronounced Ex-ay-vee-yer. Or maybe Zay-vee-yer. However, it’s not. Instead, it’s pronounced Zah-vee-ay. Lakers fans know this, but imagine what happens when the fifth-year player from the University of Kansas puts in his name at a restaurant. How many times has he missed his table after not standing when the hostess calls, “Ex-ay-vee-yer, party of three?” He’s a professional athlete – the man needs to eat. If we can make him – and his unusual pronunciation – a household name, Henry will never have to starve again. Plus, Zah-vee-ay is really fun to say.
4. Steve Nash has gray chest hair and can speak Spanish
Maybe there’s another guy in the NBA with gray chest hair. And maybe there’s another Canadian baller who speaks Spanish. But is there another player who can claim both of these attributes? Probably not, which is one more reason to like Steve Nash.
3. Jeremy Lin was born in Torrance
The man responsible for Linsanity was born at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. While Torrance ain’t exactly Los Angeles proper, he’s practically one of us, which means L.A. can claim it produced the biggest thing to hit professional hoops since the guy who decided to remove the bottom of the peach basket.
2. Kobe Bryant has something to prove
Let’s pretend this season totally falls apart before the all-star break (February 14-15 in Brooklyn and Manhattan) and you’re thinking, “Man, I don’t want to spend two hours three times a week watching this mess.” Consider this: If Kobe plays in all 82 regular season games and averages 25 points a night, he’ll pass Michael Jordan for third place on the all-time scoring list and will be approximately 3,000 points behind former Lakers forward Karl Malone, who sits at second place. Currently, he’s 6,687 points behind Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the top spot. If anyone can score 6,687 points in a season, it’s Kobe.
1. They’re still the Lakers
Sports watchers claim the best professional basketball team in Los Angeles this season has a name that rhymes with “slippers.” This fan’s take? It’s OK to flirt, and yes—this city is big enough for two teams—but loyalty is important. And in terms of things we should be loyal to, partners and basketball teams are atop that list.