The LA staff had chosen to attend till they might return earlier than hoisting their seventeenth championship banner. Ring ceremonies are normally raucous affairs, however Tuesday’s celebration was a tamer one as a result of absence of followers.
President of the Lakers Jeanie Buss instructed the followers everybody was feeling their absence: “We miss you. … However sometime quickly we can be collectively.”
The design of the rings paid tribute to the distinctive yr the Lakers have had. Not solely has the coronavirus pandemic performed havoc with finest laid plans, the demise of Lakers nice Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in January made this yr’s championship victory extra poignant.
Another numbers additionally retired by the Lakers embrace Magic Johnson’s 32, Wilt Chamberlain’s 13, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 33 and Shaquille O’Neil’s 34.
The phrase “Depart A Legacy” — the Lakers’ playoff slogan — can also be emblazoned in gold in James’ handwriting on each ring.
Nonetheless, in spite of everything that emotion and celebration, it was the Lakers’ Los Angeles rivals, who had the final phrase on Tuesday as this shortened, 72-game season bought underway.
The Lakers entered the 2020-21 season as clear favorites to repeat behind James and Anthony Davies. Nonetheless, on Tuesday night time, the Clippers led by as many as 22, ultimately happening to win 116-109.
Paul George had 33 factors, 26 of which got here within the second half whereas two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard had 26 factors. 35-year-old James had 22 to steer the Lakers however regardless of a spirited comeback, it wasn’t meant to be for the reigning champions.