When the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Golden State Warriors on Monday, the biggest storyline will have nothing to do with the game. Instead, all eyes will be squarely focused on the Kobe Bryant jersey retirement ceremony taking place at halftime as the team raises both his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys into the rafters of Staples Center.
Well, all eyes except for maybe those of the Lakers, who head coach Luke Walton said might be too busy trying to figure out how to slow the Warriors to participate in the ceremony fully.
“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.
“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”
The Warriors won’t have Stephen Curry or Draymond Green, among others, when they take on the Lakers on Bryant’s special night. But between Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, they still should have more than enough firepower to give Los Angeles plenty of problems.
And while getting to watch Bryant get honored is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Walton isn’t wrong about the Lakers having a different job to take care of. And the way he’s approaching the ceremony is emblematic of the culture he’s trying to build amidst a Lonzo Ball-fueled media maelstrom: Focus on the work, and all the rest of the noise comes second.
Still, the ceremony would probably be a good chance for the Lakers to see an example of what the type of work ethic Walton is harping on can lead to by watching Bryant get his jerseys hung up.
So it seems likely Walton will find the middle-ground he’s looking for to allow his team to at least get a chance to partake in pieces of the halftime festivities.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has already expressed his own personal desire to watch the ceremony, and the team is expected to remain on the bench with him.
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