While the performance itself was worthy of all the celebrations, a big part of what made Game IV so enjoyable was how easy it is to root for Lonnie Walker. Aside from being one of the bright spots from a miserable start to the season, Walker is someone whose humble and kind personality lends to him to being a fan favorite.
So, when it was Walker that stepped up in the biggest game of the season to date, it was a feel-good moment not just for the fans but the players as well. After the game, Walker’s teammates swarmed him to offer congratulations and join in on the celebrations.
After the game, Walker talked about the support of his teammates and how important that was to him.
“It means a lot,” Walker said. “I really can’t put it into words, just truly ecstatic to be in this situation (in itself) but to have my teammates be there with me through thick and thin, understanding what it is, it’s a great feeling, honestly. I’m really going to cherish this day and soak it all in.”
If there is to be a lasting image of this game for Walker and the Lakers, though, it’s going to be two specific teammates and the moment shared between them. At the final buzzer, the Lakers two superstars — Anthony Davis and LeBron James — embraced Walker and shared words of thanks and encouragement to him.
Game IV. pic.twitter.com/vSExw2smaf— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 9, 2023
One more tonight!— Jack Perkins (@purehoop) May 9, 2023
Walker revealed postgame the message shared between the three players in that moment.
“Just being a true pro, weathering the storm, learning how to dance in the storm and how happy they are for me,” Walker said. “There’s things that are uncontrollables. I got injured, fell out of the lineup, fell out playing but I stuck with it. I stayed in the gym, still being a great teammate and just being a professional. So, I think, most importantly, it was to give me gratitude to do what I did but just being proud of what I did today, too.”
If you get a chance, Lonnie’s entire postgame press conference is worth a watch as he’s truly a great person.
This moment is going to live long in the minds of Lakers fan, and each memorable performance has a memorable image or moment from them. It feels pretty certain that — at least for myself and maybe others — that it’ll be the image of Walker, LeBron and AD embracing and sharing a moment together.
Playoff games are as exhausting as they are exhilarating. Each win feels like a big accomplishment because it is. And it’s all the reason why performances like Lonnie’s should be and were celebrated accordingly.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.