Lakers Media Day Year 2

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.

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.


LoJo’s Top Five NBA Summer League Players

The NBA Summer League 2018 is heating up with the start of all 30 teams playing in Las Vegas on Friday (July 6). The summer league is usually a combination of new draftees and first or second year NBA players from each team. Most summer league rosters feature some G-League players as well. All with one common denominator, something to prove on the court for an opportunity to play in the NBA. The games are pretty consistent with the NBA with the exception of it being four 10-minute quarters and some other minor differences. Here are LoJo’s top five prospects who are projected to lead the charge in this year’s NBA summer league.

  1. Deandre Ayton(Phoenix Suns, C)The number one draft pick’s height, size, and strength has competition, fans, and coaches eager to see what is to come in the future for not only the summer league, but the Suns as an organization as well. Ayton has already been speculated to be the toughest competitor to maintain in the summer league. We suspect he will be a strong threat to his opponent’s defense with his shooting ability and pick and roll offense.
  2. Marvin Bagley III(Sacramento Kings, PF/C) The 6’11, 235-pound prospect is expected to light things up offensively in the summer league. His size and offensive grittiness makes him a top contender and threat to his competitors this summer. Bagley made his debut Monday against the LA Lakers with 18 points, six rebounds, and three blocks, finalizing the game 98-93. The hot commodity’s offensive style is projecting him to make a strong impact.

  3. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies, PF) – The former Spartan displayed what his full skillset on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks. Jackson shot eight three pointers with a total of 29 points proving he’s a hot contender in the summer league. In his NBA debut, he garnered a tremendous amount of attention from coaches, critics, and fans; the question now is what will he do next?
  4. Trae Young(ATL Hawks, PG) – Although the 19-year-old prospect had a slow start in his first game Monday, he began to pick up the pace and gain the momentum of his shots Tuesday against the Spurs in the second half. Young went 4-for-8 from the field and scored eight of his 12 points. The number five pick makes it clear his focus is to make the right plays and lead his team to increasing their made shots. His leadership mentality puts him in a position to take the Hawks to a new level this summer and we’re excited to see where the young hawk takes them.

    (Courtesy Photo NBA)
  5. Kevin Knox (NY Knicks, F) – The 6’9 ninth overall pick has been proving he’s hungry for greatness with the recent criticism faced in regards to his work ethic and fitness. The young prospect has been putting in the extra work for conditioning, training, and being able to sustain his energy. In addition to Knox consistently conditioning at the Knicks training facility, he participated in his first formal summer league practice Tuesday and was let it be known he was determined and focused on what he needed to do win. We project Knox’s new physical and mental attitude will drive his hunger to win, leading him to be a threat in the summer league.
  6. Bonus Aaron Holiday (IND Pacers, G) – Selected at number 23, Aaron Holiday dropped 23 points in his NBA Summer League debut and has the potential to go down as the sleeper of this year’s draft class.  The 6’1 point guard out of UCLA led the Bruins to an NCAA Tournament appearance after a controversial start to the team’s season. With the dismissal of three of his teammates, Holiday stepped up in a major way emerging as a leader for the Bruins’ young squad. Last season he averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game to earn All-Pac-12 First Team honors. Both his older brothers, Jrue Holiday (Pelicans) and Justin Holiday (Bulls) are actively playing in the NBA.

2018 NBA Draft Recap

The 2018 NBA Draft took place June 21 at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, in Brooklyn, New York. As predicted, University of Arizona phenom Deandre Ayton was selected first in the draft by the Phoenix Suns. The seven-foot, 250 pound center was drafted to his hometown team after spending one season with the Arizona Wildcats and earning Pac-12 Player of the Year honors. Ayton was the University of Arizona’s first ever first pick in the NBA draft.

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