Going into the 2023 Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets were simply two teams with the same goal of winning a championship. LeBron James and Anthony Davis were looking to return to that mountaintop while Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were trying to reach it for the first time.
Obviously the Nuggets would defeat the Lakers and go on to win the first NBA Championship in franchise franchise history. But despite the win, the Nuggets continued to mention the Lakers over the ensuing weeks. It was primarily head coach Michael Malone who did much of the talking and a Nuggets broadcaster called him the ‘Lakers Daddy’ at their parade. And while the Lakers didn’t really respond much during the summer, LeBron, Davis and the rest of the team heard it all.
At this point, there is a bit of a rivalry forming between the Lakers and Nuggets and that will be on full display when the teams meet on Opening Night. And at Lakers Media Day, Davis admitted that all of the talk coming from Denver has given the team some extra motivation coming into the season, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It’s very motivational. I mean, obviously KCP is my guy so you kind of congratulate him, like ‘you got this one.’ But it was just a lot of like, the talking, and ‘the Lakers’ daddy,’ there was just so much of that going on it was like ‘all right, we get it, y’all won.’ But me and Bron had some conversations like ‘we can’t wait.’ … There’s no moral victories. It ain’t like ‘oh we had a 0.3% chance of making [the playoffs] and we got to the West [Finals].’ Nah. We feel like we had enough to win. Obviously we had to climb an uphill battle for two months trying to make the playoffs, but it’s a lot of motivation. You want to win. Anytime you lose it’s motivation to get ready for the next season to try to compete for a championship, so that in itself is motivation. But also all the little talking that’s been going around all summer…I’m not on social media and I heard it.”
As Davis noted, the fact that the Lakers came up short to the Nuggets is enough motivation, but to hear all of the digs over the offseason just makes things more personal. There are few feelings better than to shut up those who talk too much and the Lakers have the opportunity to do just that in the first game of the year, and throughout the entire season.
With the additions they made this summer, and the improved chemistry of the team overall, the Lakers look to be one of the favorites, but everything goes through the champion Nuggets. And Davis, LeBron and the Lakers can’t wait to do just that.
Lakers’ Anthony Davis believes Christian Wood, Jaxson Hayes complement him well
Two additions the Lakers made this offseason were a pair of bigs in Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes. The two 7-footers should help ease the load on Anthony Davis and the Lakers big man believes they both pair well with him.
“Jaxson is very athletic, a rim protector and lob threat, kind of like JaVale [McGee],” Davis said during media day. “C-Wood can score, can play at all three levels of the floor. So he’s a little different from Dwight [Howard] but yeah, they’re two great bigs who can complement me very well.”
Davis added that he doesn’t yet know how much he will be playing center as opposed to power forward this year but is looking forward to experimenting in all different lineups during training camp.
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