Antelope Valley Press

Lakers hang banner to celebrate NBA tourney title


LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers have hung a modest black banner at their downtown arena to celebrate their unbeaten run to the championsh­ip of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament.

The Lakers unveiled the black-and-gold banner nestled near the franchise’s 17 NBA championsh­ip banners on Monday night before they hosted the Knicks. Los Angeles then lost to New York 114-109, taking its third defeat in four games since winning the tournament title in Las Vegas on Dec. 9.

The Lakers paused their pregame warmups for a brief tribute video and a celebratio­n with the NBA Cup as their fans clapped politely. Nobody addressed the crowd before the banner was uncovered to more cheers.

“I think it was awesome,” said LeBron James, who posted his 109th career triple-double in the loss. “To acknowledg­e wins throughout the course of a marathon, I think it’s pretty cool. That’s the first. That’s the inaugurati­on of it, so for our fans that didn’t get an opportunit­y to be in Vegas, they got an opportunit­y to kind of share that celebratio­n with us tonight, share that moment. Something that will live on forever, for sure, here.”

The Lakers deliberate­ly put a subdued nature on their celebratio­ns nine days after they beat Indiana for the title. The decorated franchise famously doesn’t hang banners for division titles or conference titles, and it has only retired the uniform numbers of Basketball Hall of Famers.

But the Lakers eventually decided the tournament victory deserves its own recognitio­n — beyond the $500,000 awarded to each player. Los Angeles went 7-0 in tournament play, with James putting on vintage performanc­es along the way.

The new vertical In-Season Tournament banner hangs near the five horizontal banners representi­ng the Minneapoli­s Lakers’ titles before the team moved to the West Coast. The 12 golden, horizontal title banners earned in Los Angeles still dominate the north wall of the arena.

“I think it’s a cool thing,” Anthony Davis said of the new banner. “(The tournament) has to be a continuous thing now. It can’t be three or four years and then it’s over, because now it (would be) like, ‘All right, you’ve got a banner for what?’ If it’s something that’s going to continue to stick around for years to come, then I think it’s cool, and I think other teams would do it if they win as well.”

The Lakers are 1-3 since the tournament final, while the Pacers are 1-4. Davis rejected the notion of a post-tournament hangover, however.

“I mean, we’re not losing by 20,” Davis said. “We’re in every game. We’re fighting, competing, playing hard. I don’t think it’s — what do they call it? The little championsh­ip high that you’re on when you start the next season? The championsh­ip hangover? I don’t think it’s one of those.”

 ?? ?? The 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament Champions banner is displayed before a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks, Monday, in Los Angeles.
The 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament Champions banner is displayed before a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks, Monday, in Los Angeles.

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