The Los Angeles Lakers landed a major coup when they signed LeBron James in free agency, and the Dodgers made a similar splash with their trade for All-Star shortstop Manny Machado. Despite their standing as the city’s preeminent sports franchises, they’re in vastly different standing.
For the Lakers, James accelerates their rebuild and perhaps signals the end of a five-year playoff drought. Meanwhile, the Dodgers are looking to win a sixth consecutive National League West title but their first World Series since 1988.
Machado is pegged as the difference maker for a team that came one win shy of a championship last November. He also joins an ever-growing list of star athletes who have the charisma and talent to succeed under the Hollywood lights.
Additionally, Machado is an avid Kobe Bryant fan, which puts him in the good graces of the Lakers fanbase. Machado’s dog is named after the five-time champion.
Machado hopes his time with the Dodgers, which might be limited to a few months, will present him with an opportunity to meet Bryant and James, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports:
“I’d love to meet him,” Machado said. “LeBron [James], too. I loved LeBron when he was in Cleveland. Loved him in Miami. And loved him when he went back to Cleveland. Hopefully, when we get to the playoffs, he can come out and cheer for us, just like he did for the Indians.”
The Dodgers don’t play their next home game until July 30, when they begin a seven-game homestand.
Bryant has previously visited Dodger Stadium but it was quite some time ago. Of course, with Magic Johnson serving as Lakers president of basketball operations while still maintaining his position within the Dodgers ownership group, he could orchestrate a meeting for Machado.
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