Wednesday night was a special one at Staples Center as the Los Angeles Lakers finally unveiled their 2019-20 championship banner before their game against the Houston Rockets.
The Lakers basically waiting an entire season to do so in order to ensure fans would be in the arena, even if it was just a small number.
It was easy to see how much that meant to the fans that were in attendance as well as the Lakers players that put in tireless work to earn that championship.
Kyle Kuzma, who oddly enough is the longest-tenured Laker, discussed how special the ceremony was for him.
It meant a lot. I’ve been here the longest, I’ve been here through some ugly times. Some real ugly times,” Kuzma admitted. “Whether it was the rookie year and the whole debacles we had, second year, same crazy stuff. I’ve kind of seen it all. So for me to be here from the jump and be a part of kind of essentially turning around an organization from the jump, from the draft, that’s where it all started for this whole strategic gameplan. It just means a lot.
“Being a kid from Flint, Michigan, I never really thought about raising banners in Staples Center so it’s real surreal to me and I’m just really grateful that I’m able to play the game that I love and contribute at a high level to winning. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, the banner I’ve been a part of, it’s up there forever. It’s never gonna go down and I’ll always remember this moment.”
Kuzma also elaborated on his entire basketball journey to get to this point in his career where he can call himself an NBA Champion as a member of the Lakers, the league’s most historic franchise.
“I just love the game of basketball, plain and simple. My freshman year of college, didn’t play at all really, played 5-7 minutes a game on a Sweet 16 team. Couldn’t transfer, but for me, I just stuck with it and just continued to build and build and build. Eventually got to the NBA and had a lot of adversity since being here. Role changes, obviously big dogs coming here and my role diminishing more. But I’m a strong person. I’m from Flint, Michigan. I’ve been through a lot and nothing really is too big for me. I love the grind.
“I think there’s a misconception about who I am as a person and people think I don’t love basketball (because of) how I dress and how I dye my hair and everything else. But if you really watch basketball and you understand where I was my rookie year to how I am now, I really turned myself into a complete all-around player. That’s from the grind, that’s from studying and that’s from wanting to be as great as I can be. So I wouldn’t change my journey for anything. I think it’s been very valuable to me, I think it’s been very valuable to take a seat and watch Bron and AD play. I think that’s helped me tremendously in my growth and I’m looking to continue to keep getting better. That’s all it’s about.”
Kuzma is right that there is a bit of a misconception about him and his love for basketball. He has done a lot to prove the doubters wrong though, improving his game each season with the Lakers, mostly on the defensive side of the floor.
Kuzma discussed what he saw on final play vs. Rockets
As far as the actual game went, it was also a memorable one for Kuzma as he knocked in the game-winning layup to secure a close victory over the Rockets. After the game, he discussed what he saw on that play.
“I just saw the floor flat,” Kuzma said. “Took my time, waited for everyone to flatten out. They shaded me left and I just made a play trying to get an angle and it worked out well.”
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