Basketball isn’t as big in Germany as it is in the United States, but when the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Moe Wagner this summer, his friends started sending him pictures of old Lakers jackets and t-shirts they had dug out of their closets to celebrate.
In that moment, Wagner realized just how far his new team’s reach went.
”The Lakers everyone knows, even if you’re not a basketball fan. Even in Germany,” Wagner said at Lakers media day. “It’s pretty cool, and pretty amazing to be part of such a historic franchise.”
If you’ve been paying attention, every rookie (except Deandre Ayton) says excited stuff like that on media day. They’re bright-eyed, first-year players who are just happy to be there, and while there is no reason to believe most of them are not sincere in their excitement, it also makes it a little less notable when they sing the praises of how much it means to play for their franchise.
But when one of the greatest players ever talks up how much it means to play for his current team on his 16th media day, though? It means a little more, and that’s exactly what LeBron James did in his interview at the desk on Spectrum Sportsnet:
It means a lot to me, just from a historical standpoint. I mean, it’s almost probably like how a new New York Yankee would feel, or a new Dallas Cowboy would feel. It’s just certain — or a New York Giant — it’s certain uniforms that, when you put it on, you have a sense of, like, pride. You feel that only in the present, but you remember the ones that came before you that laid out a path for you to even get to this point. It’s just humbling for myself today.
Being a Cowboy or being a Yankee. It’s like, you be a Laker, it’s like, you’re not only feeling a sense of pride for yourself and the decision you made, you also feel a lot of the spirits, and a lot of the good juju of the people that came before you.
In the Lakers’ and James’ case, some of those people that came before him are still in the building, including the man that recruited him, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson. There are also legends all around the team, including at the very desk James was sitting at in James Worthy’s case.
For James, the presence of all those greats just increases how excited he is to don the purple and gold.
You look at some of the great historical performances by some of the greats. I mean, I’m sitting next to one of them (Worthy), and I got Magic upstairs. So it’s like, what more can you ask for as a competitor, and as a champion myself, than to want to be around champions and be able to bounce great moments off each other?
Other than the handsome compensation James will receive over the next four years, there isn’t much more he could ask for. And while the sheer volume of information we have available about sports has made us all a little more world weary and cynical — or maybe that’s just me — it was cool to see two of the Lakers’ newest additions, both young and old, marveling at the simple magic and meaningfulness of representing a franchise that has meant so much to so many people all over the world, whether they were just a kid from Akron, or a gangly teenager from Germany.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.