Eight years ago I was 13 years old and sitting on the couch with my father celebrating as the Los Angeles Lakers won their 16th NBA championship against the Boston Celtics. Now, I am a 21-year-old man who recently got blatantly drunk with him to celebrate my very first apartment.
The Lakers have been broken for years, similarly to my relationship with my father. The organization has missed the playoffs for the last five years, a franchise record, and have had its lowest win percentage since the team’s inception. With the signing of LeBron James, I felt like that 13-year-old boy with hope in his team again for the first time in a long time.
The last few months have been filled with speculation of who would be coming to play for the Lakers. Paul George quickly shut the speculation up by signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the start of free agency. At this point, it felt like the Lakers were not going to get anyone, until the moment finally arrived. As I laid on my couch a notification popped up on my phone and Adrian Wojnarowski’s tweet appeared. It read, “LeBron James has agreed to a four-year 154M deal with the Lakers.”
One person came to my mind — my father. I ran into his room to tell him the news. He smirked and only had two words for me: “We’re back.”
Those two words meant everything. To him the Lakers were back, but to me it marked the beginning of our relationship being back as well.
This is the biggest free agent the Lakers have ever signed. A close second would be Shaquille O’Neal, who as dominant as he was, was not the best player in the world at that time — Michael Jordan was. The feeling of running into my father’s room to tell him the best player on the planet was on our favorite team was priceless.
My dad is a pretty quiet guy, but he’ll talk about basketball relentlessly. He’s not the avid watcher he once was, but he always stays updated and tries to impress me with the most random Lakers news going on. I’ll come downstairs and he’ll ask me why the young Lakers are always roasting each other and how Kyle Kuzma can’t be great until he starts playing defense. I get a kick out of it, and I’m sure he does as well.
It’s easy for us to talk basketball, but nothing else. My father was raised in El Salvador and came to the United States with nothing. He needed a job, but couldn’t speak english, so he learned by watching the Lakers and listening to Chick Hearn announce the games.
This story itself is a big reason as to why I love basketball so much, and specifically the Los Angeles Lakers. Magic Johnson is my father’s favorite player of all time, and James resembles his game very similarly. Both run the offense, and are flashy players who get the job done. My father was able to watch the showtime Lakers led by Johnson, and now I will be able to watch the new showtime Lakers led by James.
Basketball has always been the cornerstone of our relationship, and even through all the rough patches it has always been there.
Things aren’t going to immediately change between my father and I, just like the Lakers won’t win a championship right away. It’s all a process, but it feels like the wheels are finally turning.
Welcome to Los Angeles LeBron, take the Lakers to the finish line.