Lakers media day: Players will be 100% vaccinated for season
The Los Angeles Lakers have opened training camp this morning with their annual media day. Here are some updates from L.A. Times reporters Dan Woike and Broderick Turner, starting with the vaccination issue.
While about 10% of NBA players have not been vaccinated, including outspoken stars such as Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins, the Lakers are expected to be 100% vaccinated, Anthony Davis affirmed as the first player to speak at media day.
LeBron James, who was next, said he was skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccination but did research and decided it was the right choice “not only for my family and for my friends, that’s why I decided to do it.”
Davis, who has family members who work in the healthcare industry, said of getting vaccinated, “I personally did it for my family. I think everybody on this team is vaccinated, if I’m not mistaken.”
Other topics that Davis addressed:
—He expects to play center.
—He’s ready to run. “You have to run … because he’s running,” Davis said of playing with new teammate Russell Westbrook.
—He understands the concern about so many veteran players in their 30s. “They’re counting us out because we’re old. We see it. It’s exciting,” Davis said. “... Everyone is motivated to get started.”
James saw the humor in the age issue with the team.
“The narrative about our age. I kind of laugh at it,” he said. “… Some of the memes have been extremely funny.”
James, like Davis, believes Westbrook will fit in with the Lakers. The reason?
“As far as Russ, we need Russ to be Russ,” James said of the aggressive, play-making point guard, adding of how they’ll mesh on the court, “I always figure it out.”
James, who turns 37 before the end of the year, believes the Lakers’ veteran lineup has plenty of talent left to be a force on both ends of the court.
“It was exciting helping put this team together this summer … making us as explosive as we could be both offensively and defensively. … We have a team that’s looking forward to putting in the work.”
Here are some highlights from the recently added veterans on the team:
—Carmelo Anthony on jokes about the average age of veteran-laden Lakers: “It’s someone else’s narrative. It’s not our narrative.”
—Kent Bazemore, who had said he didn’t want to get vaccinated in the spring, after speaking to Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka received a first dose. A second dose is coming. “Made the decision for myself. I didn’t get it just because I was told to.”
—When Wayne Ellington was asked about starting at 2-guard, he said, “It’s great that that type of competition is there. I feel like I’m one of those players that can definitely help. … I’m here to win a championship. I’ll be here ready to do my job, no matter what.” He added: “It’s definitely shooter’s paradise.”
—Said former Westchester High and UCLA star Trevor Ariza: “I’m a plug-and-play type player. … I’ve always found a way to contribute.” Ariza said the Lakers’ age will help the team hold one another accountable. There will be more shared respect. “I look at it as a plus.”
—Undrafted rookie guard Austin Reaves, who the Lakers originally signed to a two-way contract before giving him a standard two-year deal over the weekend, answered the burning question about his nickname of “Hillbilly Kobe.” It came from a University of Oklahoma graduate assistant.
—Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, who won a title with the Lakers in 2020 and returned this offseason, is aiming for another championship. “We have what it takes to win. Anything less would be a failure.”
—Dwight Howard, a 2020 Lakers champion who left last season and returned this offseason, did not want to talk about vaccines. “I want to keep that private.”
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