The Los Angeles Lakers have existed in relative (key word) irrelevance over the last half decade. With LeBron James now on the roster and roughly 117 nationally-televised games scheduled next season, any chance of playing under the radar has flown completely out the window and may never land.
Channing Frye spent some time with the Lakers last year and has been around long enough to know about the “L.A. Nightlife” homecourt advantage both the Lakers and Clippers have enjoyed. Frye thinks that phenomenon will be a thing of the past, though, now that the Lakers are going to garner so much national attention.
Frye took part in a Q&A with Erik Gunderson of USA Today’s LeBron Wire and had this to say about the circumstances surrounding games the Lakers will play next year and moving forward:
But now you’ve got LeBron, you’ve got Rondo, you’ve got all these guys. People are like yo, we’re trying to beat the shit out of you guys now. Everybody. It’s not like let’s go party in LA now. It’s lets stay in and get some sleep. Because think about it, every team that beats the Lakers now is going to be on ESPN regardless of how good they are. If you have a good game against the Lakers you’re going to be on ESPN for the next two days, the hottest news, every game.
So get ready for that. Get ready for all that attention that comes with LeBron and all the responsibility. Get ready to try and deal with getting popular, getting invited to everything. If you have 1 million followers get ready to have 2. If you have 2 get ready to have 4. Get ready to get invited to literally everything in LA because you’re now the hottest ticket in LA. Find that medium.
Rest in peace, “L.A. Nightlife” tweets after every Lakers win. We hardly knew ye.
Frye is absolutely correct, though. Over the last few years, the Lakers were this plucky underdog that teams may not have overlooked completely on their schedules, but were hardly the type of matchup they’d circle on their calendars months in advance.
Now that LeBron is trying to elevate his third organization (the NBA’s marquee franchise, mind you) to title contention in one of the biggest markets in the world, you can guarantee that players are looking ahead to games against the Lakers to showcase their talents.
In the playoff chase, teams will relish the opportunity to spoil the Lakers’ season a little more than they would with a more garden-variety playoff hopeful. Whether or not the young guys and veteran additions are ready for those kinds of stakes will go a long way in deciding what this Lakers squad is capable of.