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The birth of the Bald Eagle: How Alex Caruso keeps building his Lakers legend

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With a new nickname and a headband, Alex Caruso is ready to take the Lakers to the next level.

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Getty Images/Graphic by Christian Rivas

On April 5, 2019, Alex Caruso started his second game for the Los Angeles Lakers because of how injured the team’s guard rotation was. The Clippers were pretty banged up, too, but they still had enough talent between Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari and Montrezl Harrell to beat the hobbled Lakers — but they didn’t, and Caruso was a big reason for that.

In 38:11, Caruso tallied 32 points — which, to this day, is still his career-high — 10 rebounds, 5 assists 2 steals and a block. As if that wasn’t enough to make him a fan favorite, that game was the difference between the Clippers going into the postseason as the No. 6 seed or No. 8 seed.

That night, in my recap for Silver Screen & Roll, I proclaimed that Caruso’s new nickname would be The Bald Eagle because of the way he soars in the air and, well, his balding head. I didn’t expect it to catch on, especially with the popularity of nicknames like “The Bald Mamba” and Caruso’s own favorite, “AC Fresh,” but through the power of the internet (and probably sheer coincidence) the “Bald Eagle” monicker has seemingly found its name to the Lakers’ locker room.

Whenever Caruso makes a basket, Dwight Howard waves his arms like they’re wings, and Caruso said it’s something Howard’s incorporated into their handshake, too. Caruso had never thought of himself as an eagle — let alone a bald one — but he said doesn’t mind it.

“It’s a pretty badass bird,” Caruso said following Tuesday’s win over the New York Knicks. “There’s worse birds to be compared to.”

Caruso’s new nickname isn’t the only thing that the team is celebrating, though. The third-year guard has also been sporting a new headband at JaVale McGee’s request.

”I just saw a vision, man,” McGee said on Saturday. “When I saw that vision of what he could be, visually ... I also told him to get the haircut. He got the headband, and what happened? He went out there and flew like the eagle he is.”

With the headband around his head on Saturday against the Detroit Pistons, Caruso cracked double figures for the first time in seven games.

“It’s got superpowers,” Caruso added. “Me and JaVale talked about it, it’s got powers.”

Caruso came up with a celebration for the headband, something the team has bought into pretty quickly.

“If y’all see the bench, everybody does it now,” Caruso said. “It’s gonna be our thing for a little bit.”

With Caruso’s swag on a million and four — to borrow a phrase from McGee — JaVale thinks the 25-year-old will start to see results.

“He’s already been a hard-nosed defender,” McGee said. “Now he’s got the look down, it’s all downhill from there. People always say downhill like that’s a bad thing, but downhill is easier. It’s easy.”

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas