EL SEGUNDO, CA-The optimism levied out by Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball of Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson and team general manager Rob Pelinka a couple of days out from Media Day is one that sounds like expectations for the upcoming NBA season are high. Johnson gushed about the leadership qualities Lebron James is bringing to the table.
“Today is amazing just to see all of them together playing in a pickup game,” Johnson as he spoke to the media at a press conference located at the team’s practice facility. “Oh, my goodness. It’s something that you forget. I’ve watched LeBron afar. I’ve been to many games, but to watch him in person is a whole different thing. He makes everybody better, but also, how he raises everybody’s level of play, and his basketball IQ, and his leadership abilities…it was all on display this day.”
Johnson also spoke effusively on the championship pedigree that both point guard Rajon Rondo and center JaVale McGee have to offer and the vast improvement each player on the roster has made.
“I haven’t been this excited in a long time,” said Johnson. “When you look at our roster, one through fourteen, the talent that we have, and the coaching experience of coach (Luke) Walton and his staff, I think that we should be excited. We brought in champions, too. People forgot about that. JaVale, Rondo, and of course, you know what LeBron has done. They’ve all won championships, and that’s what our young players needed. They needed to…not only for us to bring in veteran players, [but] the right type of veteran players to teach them and lead them and help them learn how to prepare for a season, for a game, and then hopefully, in April, learn how to prepare for the playoffs.”
That’s more than enough for Purple and Gold fans to get excited about. Rondo, who played for the dreaded Boston Celtics that competed against the Lakers in two NBA Finals, will likely have more impact on the team more than anyone else not named Lebron James. His ferocity on the defensive end as well as his superb ballhandling skills makes him the perfect fit into what the Lakers will be doing offensively.
“The guy can create shots for his teammates,” Johnson said. “He’s smart.”
That’s not to mention Rondo serving as the other adult in the room when it comes to running the point guard position. Second-year man Lonzo Ball will have James, Johnson and now Rondo giving him that little extra to help elevate him from being a very good point guard to an elite one. All four men have the same commonality about one another that brings them together: ball distribution.
All four would rather pass the ball and set up teammates with an easy pathway to scoring than worry about their own statistical numbers. Hall of Famers Kareen Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy had a lot of days and nights where his inside game was made easier because of Johnson’s mercurial passing ability. James has always been on point as an excellent ball distributor.
Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Kevin Love, and Chris Bosh don’t collect NBA title rings without the fundamentally sound court improvision of James to feed them the ball at the right place and at the right time. So now with James orchestrating the fastbreak parade, expect Ball, Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Josh Hart, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to open the gates to a whole lot of fastbreak points.
“We’re going to run,” Johnson said. “When we get it, we’re going. We’re not looking for one player. Rondo can run the break. Lonzo can run the break. Lance can take it. B.I. (Brandon Ingram) can take it. Michael (Beasley) can take it.”