For the first time since 1991 the Los Angeles Lakers will play a friendly game of hoops outside of North America. Today the team will make a company move to London where they’ll open the preseason against the Minnesota Timberwolves then will trek down to Spain where Barcelona FC awaits.
Phil Jackson isn’t exactly ecstatic about his team’s camp routine being interrupted by the European excursion.
”This training camp is kind of a bust, as we call it. We don’t anticipate that the first two weeks we’re going to gain any ground. It’s our turn to go [to Europe] and we’ll make the best out of it.”
At one point in time a trip such as this would have been seen as a momentous occasion. However, for the Lakers, who already have a large international image, this is more of a nuisance.
Once upon a time this would have also been a new experience for many of the players. With Pau Gasol’s Spanish heritage and his travels to India over the summer, it’s just another chance to get a few cramps on a long flight. Lamar Odom was in Turkey not so long ago for the FIBA championships and many of the players have been there/done that with regards to Europe as well.
Mark Median of Times is polling readers on whether or not Kobe Bryant should even play. Andrew Bynum will make the trip as the entire training team is going as well so he’ll have to follow in order to continue his rehab. I’m sure there are more preferable ways for a 7-footer with a knee injury to relax aside from a cross Atlantic flight but we all know what happened the last time the team left Andrew home alone to rehab.
About the only ones who benefit from this are the countless European fans that have made KB24’s jersey the most popular on the continent and the NBA in its continuing quest to expand the global brand.
For us Laker fans, however, we do get an early look at the team as they tip-off Monday, October 4th, against former long time Laker Kurt Rambis and his T-Wolves.