I arrived at the copper gates of the UCLA Health Training Facility for Lakers Media Day an hour early where I was met by a guard with a purple shirt and a clipboard, “Name please,” she asked me. I nervously uttered Lauren Jones. She signaled to the other guard obstructing the driving path, ‘she’s good to go.’ As I came around the bend to the parking, there was a line wrapped around the corner filled with media members waiting to enter the facility. News trucks from the local stations, ABC7, NBC4, ESPN, etc. occupied many of the parking spaces. As I walked up, I saw few familiar faces. In fact, I felt like the newbie. It was like watching a reunion in school after coming back from summer break, people have been promoted and the excitement level is high.
For most of the time I was in line, I just observed and quickly noticed one of my favorite writers, Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times, just so happened to get in line right behind me. He was greeted by several longtime Laker writers and I just took notes. After making my way inside the gym, it was an overwhelming amount of cameras, production crew members, lights, and of course the podium where LeBron James would be addressing media first. Fortunately, I was sitting beside fellow journalist Justin Tinsley of ESPN’s The Undefeated, who I was privileged to meet earlier in the summer at a sports and entertainment panel at Howard University where he spoke. I received a notification on my Twitter and it was a picture captured on The Ringer’s Twitter page from Lakers media day.
— The Ringer (@ringer) September 24, 2018
I Tweeted out the schedule for media day. I’m not quite sure how the algorithm works, but it was really the first time that my Twitter had gained so much attention. Speaking of attention, as King James walked into the gym sporting his Lakers uniform for the first time, the media swarmed. He remained unfazed and without expression as he took his seat. The questions ensued. Unlike last year, I was empowered to make sure I asked a question. I watched the microphone play hopscotch and finally it landed on me.
Immediately following the conclusion of James’ media session, I had a few writers approach me and tell me that they were impressed with my question. I was humbled, but I know that as the new Lakers beat reporter for the L.A. Sentinel, asking a question is only a small fraction of the job I am undertaking.
As I was leaving the facility, something in me told me to take the “long way,” back to my car. Once I turned the corner towards the exit, none other than Magic Johnson walked into the hallway. His face lit up as he saw me, “What’s up girl?” The most comforting familiar face I could have asked to seen as my media day experience in year two concluded. I was able to finally tell him that I would be covering the Lakers this season. He looked at me and said, “I am so proud of you.” With that, Laker legend “Big Game” James Worthy tapped Magic on the shoulder and they had a short exchange.
In that moment, I felt as if all of my hard work was finally paying off. To be able to witness the exchange between two Laker greats as I cover a soon to be other Laker great in LeBron James is surreal. I am so thankful to the Bakewell family, the L.A. Sentinel and L.A. Watts Times for the opportunity to cover my childhood favorite team in the Los Angeles Lakers. Stay updated with my coverage on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.