The Lakers Get Their Rings... Then Get Dropped By the Clippers - Opening Night Reaction
Play • 1 hr 8 min

So apparently, the Lakers know a winning formula when they see it. Losing to the Clippers in the opener worked out last season, so Tuesday night, as the NBA kicked off the 2020-21 season, they tried it again. The LAC beat the Lakers 116-109.

But before that, we got another example of just how good the Lakers are at stagecraft, as they turned what could have been a sad and underwhelming ring ceremony, staged in an empty arena with rigid social distancing guidelines, into something really fantastic. First, they had frontline health workers from UCLA Health "present" rings to team staff. Then for Frank Vogel, Rob Pelinka and the players, their families delivered messages of congratulations and love. It was awesome, and clearly moving for the players. And by the way, it's another thing that helps attract players to the franchise.

It leads to a conversation about what "Lakers Exceptionalism" actually is -- a form of extreme competence that allows the team to win. That's how it was when Dr. Buss was around, and they're back in a similar place now.

Then, it's on to the game. How did the new guys look? What went wrong? Anything to worry about? As for the last question, no, but it's certainly possible the Lakers could look a little more like a work in progress than last year's team did over its first 20 games. Vogel has already noted how the Lakers will need to be careful with LeBron and Davis, minding their workloads. They won't be the only ones. Rotations will need to be tweaked, and changes in personnel - the center position has much less shot-blocking, for example - will require more adjustments. They'll likely win a lot more than they lose, either way, but how much of a work-in-progress will the Lakers be?

Finally, a look at the Clips. Oh, by the way, they won this game, and they're really good, even if you'd still pick the Lakers to win the conference.

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