The Los Angeles Lakers boarded a chartered flight for Orlando, Florida, on Thursday and upon arrival entered into the process of quarantining in order to gain clearance to begin basketball activities inside the Walt Disney World bubble.
That came Saturday, which marked the first day Lakers players and members of their traveling party were permitted to exit their respective hotel rooms. The team is largely whole, with only Avery Bradley electing to opt out of the NBA restart.
Dwight Howard considered doing so as well but committed to joining the Lakers in their pursuit of a championship. Although others across the league joined Bradley in opting out, LeBron James confirmed he didn’t entertain the possibility.
“Never crossed my mind that we did not need to play this beautiful game of basketball that brings so many people together, brings happiness, brings joy to households and to so many families,” James said via a Zoom call with media before the Lakers’ first practice in Orlando.
“From kids that are just born and their parents put on their favorite team’s clothing, to all the way you’re 60, 70 or 80 years old and you’re thinking about the game from a sport. This is all about sport, and I’m happy to be a part of one of the biggest sports in the world with the game of basketball.
LeBron pursuing ‘real’ social change
For all James has accomplished on the court, he’s been just as successful and arguably more instrumental off it. In 2018 he opened the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, and is confident of being able to fill a dual role in the months ahead.
“I’m happy to have a platform where not only people will gain joy from the way I play the game, the way our team plays the game, but also for what I’m able to do off the floor as well,” James said.
“Being able to use my platform, use the NBA’s platform, to continue to talk about what’s going on, because I will not stop until I see real change for us as Black America, for African-Americans, for people of color. I believe I can do both.
“I can bring happiness to a lot of homes with the way I play the game and the way the Lakers are going to play the game, and I will continue to push the envelope and keep my foot on the gas on creating real change for us as people of color in America.”
Adjusting to Orlando bubble
As for the unique backdrop that the NBA season is being completed against, James largely has taken it in stride thus far. “Just getting acclimated,” he said of the process.
“We got here Thursday night, went through all the COVID protocols, all the security protocols, we quarantined for the last 36-48 hours and this evening is our first practice. Looking forward to getting on the floor with my teammates and for us to get better.”
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