The world was a much different place when the Los Angeles Lakers last clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference in 2010. There was only one iPad, shutter shades were on every shelf across the United States, “Parks and Recreation” was only in its second season, and Bruno Mars was nothing more than a feature artist.
Oh, and basketball was still played in front of fans.
With a win against the Utah Jazz on Monday, the Lakers retook their place at the top of the Western Conference, and while they have bigger goals in mind as a team, they took a moment to appreciate their feat after the game.
“No one knew before the game, like players-wise, we never talked about it,” Anthony Davis said. “But to do something like that, it’s been a long time coming for the Laker Nation, and we just go out there and try to play. We’re trying to be the best version of the team that we can be, and it’s a good feeling. Obviously we’re not done, we’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s a good accomplishment for our organization.”
Real laker fans remember the losing seasons. Here ya go #1— kuz (@kylekuzma) August 4, 2020
This season will mark the first postseason appearances for Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma, who have been with the Lakers since 2017. Only Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been with the Lakers as long as Caruso and Kuzma have.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, this will be the 13th playoff appearance for LeBron James, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005 last season. James’ underwhelming first season in Los Angeles led to questions about whether or not he could compete in the Western Conference after spending the entirety of his career in the Eastern Conference, whether he could still lead a team at the age of 35, and whether he still cared about basketball enough to do either of those things.
As it turns out, those concerns were overblown, and no one was happier to say “I told you so” than James.
Clinching the top seed in the western conference means a lot to LeBron James. “It feels damn good to be the number one seed in the West,” he told me last night. “...They said I couldn’t do it.” https://t.co/GQnspALPrx— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 4, 2020
James hasn’t put the cherry on the top of his cake yet, though, and neither have the Lakers. So while there’s nothing for them to gain in the standing over these next five seeding games, they can continue to work towards their goal of being a team capable of winning a championship, and that’s what they plan on doing.
“We’re building the right habits,” Frank Vogel said. “If you’re winning enough games to secure the No. 1 seed, then you’re building the right habits that are going to be necessary for you to win in the playoffs. Obviously we have bigger aspirations than the No. 1 seed, but we are proud of the accomplishment and we’ll enjoy it while we get ready for the playoffs.”