Dhe gym next to the conference center in downtown Los Angeles is no arena like any other. In a normal winter, three top American league sports teams play their home games here. The flagship team has always been just one thing: the Los Angeles Lakers, who were able to win five of their 17 NBA championships in this sports palace, putting the Los Angeles Kings ice hockey team and the Los Angeles Clippers basketball competition in the shade.
High under the roof in the southeast corner of the arena is the most striking symbol of the club’s success story, which traditionally dresses its players in gold and purple: there are large panels of fabric with the discarded shirt numbers of the most famous Lakers: including Wilt Chamberlain (13), Magic Johnson (32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Shaquille O’Neal (34), Jerry West (44), the man whose silhouette is adorned with the NBA logo, and since his retirement in 2017, the two numbers with which Kobe Bryant who had a fatal accident at the beginning of the year: the 8 and the 24. The 17, which Dennis Schröder tries to make his trademark, is not yet one of them.
The greeting of his new and much more famous teammates sounded quite lively. Captain LeBron James, for example, sent the newcomer a kind of accolade on Thursday via Instagram. Schröder is a “total dog” who would now become a member of “a whole pack” that had become champions in the Orlando quarantine bubble at the beginning of October. James is the focus of the team, in 2018 the Lakers signed him for a $ 153 million salary guarantee and a four-year contract.
He is one of the best and most self-confident basketball players in history, who also influences personnel policy. James was something like the architect of the Schröder change. “LeBron likes his game,” reveals sports journalist Brian Windhorst, a LeBron intimate: “He’s wanted to play with him for a while.” There was a swap deal with Oklahoma City “almost a year ago”.
It didn’t come to that. And certainly not because, as the German national player told Magenta Sport’s basketball podcast a few days ago: “He never wanted to go to Lakers, to the Clippers, to all the names out there that my agents called” . Thunder boss Sam Presti was in charge of the transfer. And he just waited until he could play poker with other clubs who were also interested in the 27-year-old playmaker.
The new NBA season is set to begin on December 22nd. “When you think back to the quarantine bubble and what we were able to achieve there, then you have to say what has become the core identity of our team there: incredibly tough, ambitious, courageous, defensive basketball. And that’s really the core of Dennis’s style of play, ”says Lakers manager Rob Pelinka. Schröder last had his best season since moving to the NBA in 2013 in Oklahoma City.
With an average of 18.9 points per game, 4.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game, he would have deserved the “best sixth man” award, which honors NBA professionals who have energy and drive in the Coming off the bench in the course of the game in order to paralyze the opponent’s second set. Pelinka wasn’t the only one who noticed this. But he was the most determined when it came to securing this player.