One of the things the Los Angeles Lakers prioritized the most during the hectic 2021 offseason was rebuilding the culture from their 2019-20 NBA Championship. To do that, they brought in a number of familiar faces and former Lakers players, including Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington and Kent Bazemore.
The first two — Rondo and Howard — were huge parts of winning a championship two seasons ago but left in free agency as the Lakers focused on younger players. Both were ecstatic to be back in L.A. after their year away, but for Rondo, it was particularly emotional.
During the team’s preseason opener on Sunday afternoon, Rondo felt the love from Lakers fans in attendance and spoke about what it meant to him to be back, via TMZ:
“I almost cried again last night,” Rondo told us. “It means everything. I was away for a year … came back and the reception I got last night, I had to try to focus on the game.”
“The love I got, the attention from the crowd getting back in the game. It was amazing.”
Moments like this not only reinforce the idea that bringing back Rondo was the right call, it also shows that the culture they built in 2020 was sorely missed last season.
This year, there should be no worries about chemistry or demands. The team may have some flaws on the court, but they’ll absolutely have enough respect for one another off the court to make it work.
For the fans, this also figures to be an emotional season, as bringing back all of these familiar faces will certainly provide nostalgia in a way that very few basketball teams can do. Hopefully the ovations for Rondo and the other former-to-current Lakers will only grow as the season progresses.
Russell Westbrook starting to settle into being a Laker
Russell Westbrook has yet to suit up and play a game in a Lakers uniform, but he’s already had several moments of realization that he gets to play for his hometown team.
“And sometimes I’ll just sit back and be like, man, truly blessed to be able to be here in Los Angeles, but not just, that I’m playing for my hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, is a blessing in itself.”
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