Normally the Los Angeles Lakers getting a February regular season win against the New Orleans Pelicans wouldn’t be reason for much celebration. Sure, it was Zion Williamson’s debut in L.A., and yes, Anthony Davis used to play for the other team, but the Lakers had already beaten New Orleans twice already this season, and the team with the best record in the Western Conference should be expected to beat a team that might not even make the playoffs.
For Markieff Morris, however, this game was a bit more special. It was his first time wearing a Lakers uniform after signing with the team as a buyout free agent earlier in the week. His first opportunity to suit up for the team he grew up watching another Philadelphia kid play for.
“It means everything to put on the purple and gold. Growing up from where Kobe [Bryant is] from, that’s all I’ve seen my whole life,” Morris said in the locker room on Tuesday after scoring 4 points in 15 minutes in his debut.
Morris fared a bit better in his second game for the Lakers, scoring 8 points and looking like more of a seamless fit against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night. Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel has said that he’s still working with Morris on the defensive terminology the team uses and has assistant coaches helping him with the playbook, and it’s clear Morris still has some adjusting to do in his new situation before the playoffs roll around.
He admitted he wasn’t sure what to expect when he joined on.
“I hadn’t played against the Lakers this year,” Morris said. “Hadn’t even seen them play. When I was with my old team, I stayed back when we came out here.”
From his vantage point on Tuesday, however, the Lakers lived up to the hype.
“It looks the same as how it looks on TV. A lot of domination, a lot of ‘Bron, a lot of AD, we’ve got a good group of guys that play their roles really well,” Morris said. “Everybody on the team is looking for that extra pass.”
He’s already getting a sense for how he’s going to fit in with those two stars as well.
“Just trying to pick my spots, really,” Morris said. “[LeBron is] the best player in the game, and he makes the job a lot easier for us. I think we’ve got something special.
“[Davis] is a great passer,” Morris continued. “I just moved around a lot and he found me.”
But however Morris ultimately does or doesn’t end up fitting in, he’s relishing every second of this opportunity. After going from a lottery situation to playing for not just a contender, but the team he grew up watching Bryant play for, he’s going to appreciate every moment of this.
“Putting on this jersey is very special, it’s special to be a part of this group and I’m happy to be here,” Morris said.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.