EL SEGUNDO — Center Brook Lopez already had claimed the Lakers are – “no question” – playoff-worthy.
Forward Larry Nance Jr. already had noted the presence of “expectations that weren’t there before.”
General Manager Rob Pelinka already had explained how this version of Lakers is no doubt improved because “the whole mentality … has been flipped.”
Finally, after the organization had spread more sugar than is in 100 Snickers, perhaps the showiest Laker of all-time was the one who toned things down a bit.
First, though, Magic Johnson likened Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram – a rookie and a second-year player – to Magic Johnson and James Worthy – a pair of Hall of Famers.
“I think it’s going to be the same with those two guys,” Johnson said, quite seriously, and if anyone knows Magic Johnson it has to be Magic Johnson, correct? “I’m looking forward to them forming that chemistry on the court.”
Every team sells optimism on its media day. It’s an NBA tradition. This week, though, the Lakers were a 24-hour shopping network of smiling rainbows and glitter-covered unicorns.
Particularly for a team that, over the past four seasons, has a record of 91-237.
Starting Saturday night at Honda Center, we’ll begin to find out if what they were spreading was, in fact, sugar or something less mouth-watering, like manure.
The Lakers open the preseason in Anaheim against Minnesota, a phony game that feels altogether real because of Ball, the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft, and everything that it means to have Ball on your team.
In recent days, he has been labeled a “contagious” leader and a “contagious” passer, Ball’s ability to lift spirits also obviously just as infectious.
He is expected to lift a whole lot more than just the intangible, too, this franchise with a history of 16 championships and decades of dominance now turning to a 19-year-old, the youngest guy on the roster.
“He elevates players to a whole other level or…