LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers finally unveiled the banner for the franchise’s 17th championship at Staples Center on Wednesday, and LeBron James took the opportunity to set his sights on No. 18.
“We said we wouldn’t reveal this banner until we had some of you in the seats, so this is the time for the guys,” James said, speaking into a mic in center court before Los Angeles took on. the Houston Rockets. “We had our ring night, we wanted you there, but we wanted to make sure we saved the banner for all of you.
“So we love them, and the road to back-to-back games starts in about a week. So let’s keep going.”
The Lakers held a traditional ring ceremony on the opening night of the 2020-21 season in December, but did not reveal the championship banner until Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 restrictions were eased so fans could enter the edifice.
About 4,000 fans attended Wednesday’s game, according to a Lakers spokesperson, which is far less than the Staples Center’s 19,000 capacity for Lakers games, but also more than double the 1,915 fans present on April 15 against the Boston Celtics – The first game fans were able to return.
James shared center court with Lakers governor Jeanie Buss with the 2020 Larry O’Brien Trophy for the team’s title won in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, resting on a table between them.
“We have waited until now because our banners have always been for our fans,” Buss said. “It’s great to hear them together and get back together as a family. We have received our trophy, the players have their rings, our latest business to commemorate our 2020 NBA championship is honoring our fans with the banner.”
The Lakers hope to continue increasing assist capacity in the postseason while working with state and local coronavirus guidelines, according to a team spokesperson.
James, who missed his sixth game in a row due to a sprained right ankle, addressed the crowd in a baseball cap, dark green shorts and a black sweatshirt. When he finished speaking, Lakers announcer Lawrence Tanter counted down, “3-2-1,” and the black cape with the message “Stay tuned, Lakers family,” which had been covering the championship banner. since opening night. It was removed.
Queen’s “We Are the Champions” echoed through the arena’s sound system to accompany the moment.
Anthony Davis, also in street clothes and out for the game due to the strain on his groin, took the microphone to end the pregame ceremony.
“What a feeling,” Davis said. “I never thought I’d be hanging one of these banners, man. And it’s all because of you. All because of you, your continued support for me, my teammates, the coaching staff.
“Before the break, when they were allowed into the building. Even when we were going to the bubble, every night we would come and see them on the screen cheering us on. And that means a lot to us. And without you, we couldn’t raise this flag or have this trophy behind us.
“So I appreciate you guys, and like Bron said, let’s get going and try to repeat.”