Hardcore hoop heads won’t see it this way, but the NBA felt they needed something to lift us out of the malaise of those dull December days.
Unwrapping the NBA Cup before Christmas, this In-Season Tournament, inspired by international soccer tourneys and the WNBA’s own Commissioner’s Cup, got creative with some cool, compelling, coloured court designs and unique uniforms for the competition.
Fading their black, the NBA actually banned the Lakers editions designed purposely for this event. Claiming it clashed with the court, this triangle logo look left the Lake Show in a Bermuda of bewilderment. Didn’t the NBA commission these threads for the Cup?
Reverting to gold, LA struck exactly that in LV. Las Vegas plays home to the back-to-back, two-time WNBA champs, the Las Vegas Aces. One day, LeBron James wants to bring an NBA franchise here. That’s been on the cards longer than kings and queens have been in all the suits.
Until then, the tournament MVP can bank on another piece of hardware in his trophy cabinet, as the storied Lakers have made history as the first team to lift the NBA Cup.
Not any given Sunday. It was a great day in LA with this and the Los Angeles Dodgers bagging the LBJ of the MLB in Shohei Ohtani by giving him the bag. One that will make this former Angel in the city of those harp players make the King look like a peasant.
Rui and Shohei hitting big for Hollywood’s two most famous teams. The Japanese spotlight in sports is ready for its close up.
The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers 123-109, in a thrilling, close call conclusion of a serious tournament with no series to go back and forth. The last time the Lakers and the Pacers played in any sort of final was back in the year 2000. When, Kobe had a ‘fro and ‘Bron was just a high-school kid from Akron with big dreams.
Fast-forward 23 years, and after putting up 30 points, eight assists and five rebounds in just as many minutes as the digits on his jersey in the semis. The King dealt a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds and dished four assists.
Yet it was Anthony Davis who was the real high roller in Sin City. A screaming and passionate AD put up MVP numbers of his own with a season-high 41 points and 20 rebounds, channelling Chamberlain, to go along with five assists and four blocks.
Pick your poison and the third head of the Lakers big-game monster. Austin Reaves had 28 points and three assists. D’Angelo Russell, whose been pure this season, added 13. Rob Pelinka should think twice before he considers trading any of these guys for disgruntled Chicago Bulls star Zach Lavine.
Now the Lakers are the first Cup champs, haters will claim it’s about as meaningless as they say their Bubble championship was. No matter, for the Lake Show’s first trophy since that in 2020, each player will receive a cool $500,000 extra in winnings.
The Pacers, who came into this game 6-0 like the Lakers, can’t complain either. They each get $200,000. Indiana sure kept up pace with the purple and gold, too. Fast and furious breakout star Tyrese Haliburton started slow, but finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Hali is the future of the league, like Canada and the Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Bennedict Mathurin added 20 to go along with 13 from Obi Toppin. But the Pacers needed more Myles Turner and less Anthony Davis.
Turner and a quiet Buddy Hield were sought-after by the Lakers for years. Tonight, they could only watch with snake eyes as LeBron and all the King’s men won the lot and took home the pot.
It’s time to celebrate, but keep the champagne on ice.
The Black Mamba said it before, the Lakers don’t hang division banners. Yet with this trip to the desert, they take themselves one step closer to stamping their playoff passport and the high-stakes round of the post-season roulette.
You really want to bet against them?