HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Phil Jackson has employed some rather interesting motivational tactics to inspire his teams in the past.
But the Zen Master, or someone else affiliated with the Lakers, took it to another level on the eve of tonight’s Lakers-Mavericks game (10:30 p.m. on TNT).
Seriously, the Lakers got a little divine assistance for the big game at practice yesterday, along with the usual three-ring Hollywood circus that accompanies the two-time defending champs.
A Cardinal, an Archbishop, and an E! camera crew walk into a practice…
Sounds like the setup for a joke — not necessarily one you’d hear outside the Catskills, though a joke nonetheless — but Wednesday in El Segundo it was reality for the Lakers. Among those inside the gym watching practice were Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez, and Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, Archbishop of Lima. (I suppose if any two people can be trusted not to reveal the game plan for Thursday’s test against the Mavs, it’s these guys.) Then, after the doors opened to the rest of us, the esteemed pairing was joined by a gaggle of production types filming Lamar Odom for his reality show.
I realize it gets said a lot, but this certainly qualifies as an “Only in L.A.” moment.
“We have people come in and want to watch and stuff like that. Celebrities and so forth and so on, but that’s was the first time in my 15 years that’s happened,” Kobe Bryant said. Given the wide stretch of his celebrity, I don’t suspect Bryant’s popularity needs a boost anywhere around the world, but if by chance Peruvian Catholics were lagging behind, say, the Chinese in their collective love for No. 24, today’s events will certainly help.
This game doesn’t need any extra hype.
A half-game separates the Lakers and Mavericks in the standings. And tonight’s game is the last regular season meeting between the two combatants for the No. 2 seed, they are tied at 1-1.
The Lakers have won 15 of 16 since the All-Star break and seven straight. The Mavericks have won five straight.
Something has to give tonight.