Los Angeles Lakers basketball is finally back after a four-month hiatus

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The wait is over. The Los Angeles Lakers are officially back.

142 days. That’s how long it has been since the Los Angeles Lakers last took the floor for a regular-season basketball game. That streak filled with fear, anger, boredom, hope, joy and every emotion in between is over. The Los Angeles Lakers, and NBA basketball, are finally back.

That does not mean these feelings disappear and life as we knew it returns to normal. No, not at all. But it does mean that for a couple of hours, we can sit on our couch and feel a sense of normalcy as we jump out of our seats when LeBron James throws a no-look pass to Anthony Davis for a dunk. Or we vent on twitter about the lack of ball-handling in the second unit.

It has been a long journey to get to this point, with optimism one day followed by skepticism the next that the NBA would return this year. When we last left off, the Lakers sat firmly atop the Western Conference and had captured wins over their two fiercest challengers: the Clippers and Bucks, before losing to the Nets in their last outing.

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Laker nation was electric. Whether justified or not, there was a sense of belief among Laker fans that this team was special and after missing the playoffs for six consecutive seasons, glory had returned to the purple and gold. Then, a global pandemic hit.

That belief did not change but it disappeared as basketball and sports took a backseat to a disease that has impacted millions of families across the world. It was a long hiatus. One that saw a disturbing amount of people suffering from the loss of loved ones, fighting for their own health, or in economic hardship.

On top of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world watched on video as a white police officer knelt on the neck of a George Floyd until he could no longer breathe. Eruptions of protests in LA and across the country fighting against police brutality and systematic racism followed.

Basketball can not fix any of this. But what it can do is help heal. Basketball won’t be a distraction from the real world as the NBA has decided to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the courts in Orlando and when watching the games it will be clear there are no fans and the set up is far from normal. However, it can be an escape. An escape from the harsh reality many people find themselves in.

We need basketball. That might seem ridiculous to say and in the grand scheme of things it probably is, but the relief, even for just a short time, is exactly what people need right now.

Basketball bridges a gap between pain and hope, no matter your affiliation to the game. Lakers fandom also allows for pain and hope, but the good kind that makes you realize just how much you care. The previous six seasons have caused irrevocable pain as we have struggled to enter the postseason, juxtaposed to this season, prior to the shutdown, that has elicited remarkable joy.

While all indications are the bubble has been a success so far, there is no guarantee this lasts. What is certain though, is unforeseeable results are sure to take place across the NBA in the coming months.

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If the Los Angeles Lakers can hold on to a resemblance of what they were back in March, it might just be a smooth ride. On second thought, nothing is ever smooth, not these days at least. Whatever the ride looks like, let’s just buckle up and enjoy it, because for the first time in 4 1/2 months, basketball is back.