The Los Angeles Dodgers are preparing for an epic showdown with the Chicago Cubs in the MLB playoffs. After dispatching the Arizona Diamondbacks in three straight games, Dodger fans are praying that this is the year the team breaks through and goes all the way. The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, find themselves in a very different situation.
Mired in a four-year playoff drought, the Lakers are in a rebuilding phase, believing that young talent like Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram — as well as a key free agent signing or two next summer — can lead them back to the top of the NBA mountain.
The two clubs share the heart of the city, and as he noted in a recent piece by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is a believer in the new-look Lakers:
“I grew up as a Shaq fan,” Jansen told ESPN. “My older brother was a Lakers fan. After Shaq was traded to the Lakers, that became my team as well. So to be in L.A., where I can go watch them, and we can get a player like Zo, it’s unbelievable.”
As a longtime Lakers fan, Jansen feels that the Lakers are on the right track. Of course, Magic Johnson, who is part-owner of the Dodgers also acts as the Lakers President of Basketball Operations, so there is that connection between the two teams, but still, Jansen sounds sincere, particularly when raving about the potential of Ball:
“I feel like Zo, if he really wants it, his future is so bright. He has so many good people with him, he could become one of the greatest in his era. I really believe this guy could be as good as Steph Curry is, because of his passing and vision. He can be unbelievable.”
The Lakers hope that Jansen is correct in his assessment. If Ball becomes a transcendent player then surely others will want to join him via free agency, and that could quickly catapult the Lakers back to the top.
Such a leap, however, is still in the future. In the here and now, Los Angeles fans can only hope for a championship run from the Dodgers and improvement out of the young Lakers.