The 2017-18 NBA regular season may start on Oct. 19 for the Los Angeles Lakers as they play host to the Los Angeles Clippers, but Monday’s Media Day is the first day of the marathon 2017-18 NBA season for players, coaches, staff and just about everyone else involved in producing the next year of Lakers’ basketball.
And yes, the NBA is a marathon.
For players, the season will end in mid-April at the earliest, end sometime in May for the optimists and conclude in June for the fans so delusional that they deserve respect for their beliefs in the face of all reason.
For the first time ever, Media Day for the Lakers will be held at the newly built UCLA Heath Training Center, and Monday is bit of a grand opening for the facility that means to spoil players with every convenience. The Lakers are looking to attract big time free agents in the Summer of 2018, and a brand new practice facility designed to cater to a modern player’s every training desire is an overt move to assist in that recruiting mission.
Media Day begins with general manager Rob Pelinka addressing the assembled media and sharing his vision for the first team the former super-agent has assembled, working hand-in-hand with new Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
From there, Media Day turns into a noisy circus where fully uniformed players are paraded through a maze-like circuit of activities. For many, this is like the first time they’ve dressed in their brand new jerseys with the Nike logo on one chest and the WISH company logo on another. The circuit of activities include taking photos for team photographers, recording messages for sponsors and the in-arena entertainment and providing various live interviews with television and radio partners, along with the hoards of assembled local and national media.
As the name suggests, the day generates a great deal of media as players will be asked about the usual details of their summer preparations, their expectations for the upcoming season and also, inevitably, about current newsworthy events like the protests that have engulfed sports across the country.
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A season ago, the Lakers decided to lock arms for the national anthem to show support for the kneeling protest aimed at fighting for racial equality and social justice. Whether the team will continue that action, expand it or step away from the protest is yet to be determined, though the last of those three options seems extremely unlikely given that the protests have undoubtedly gained momentum in recent days.
Though the aforementioned subject is sure to be brought up, the majority of the day is lighter in nature and focuses more on the start of a new season and players and coaches’ expectations of the upcoming training camp and season.
Undoubtedly, the central attraction on the day will be Lonzo Ball, as the no. 2 pick in the draft and the new face of the franchise experiences his first go around as the star attraction at Media Day. The point guard turned heads during NBA Summer League and has the fan base and fellow teammates energized.
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Ball is not known for being a big talker, but his every word will be dissected and cut up to find its way onto newscasts and into newspapers. The day should feature no shortage of quotes about the new Lakers’ point guard from teammates, the general manager and Lakers coach Luke Walton.
With a full season of separation from Kobe Bryant’s retirement, Ball expects to fill the void left by the Lakers’ retired super star–at least until the team signs those targeted free agents in the summer of 2018.
From Monday until the Lakers’ season opener on Oct. 19 is a straight shot that features four days of training camp, six preseason games and twenty-five total days until the official start of the Lakers’ 58th season in Los Angeles.
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