Thursday, September 20, 2018
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Southpaw

Ube and queso for LeBron

With a clever post on Facebook, Tessa Jazmines shared the news Monday that superstar LeBron James has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“LeBron James in ube and queso colors,” wrote the longtime sportswriter, while the purple and gold frenzy surrounding LeBron’s decision to come to LA was engulfing the sports world.

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“With LeBron, it’s showtime again,” said erstwhile Manila sportswriter Val Abelgas, now a Southland resident, recalling the Showtime Lakers in the 80s and up to 2010 when they captured 10 of their 16 NBA titles.

Like every Lakers fan, Abelgas credits the team’s basketball chief, Magic Johnson, for bringing the three-time NBA champion and three-time NBA Finals MVP to Hollywood on a four-year $154-million contract, reportedly below what LeBron’s old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers offered.

When Chris Paul and Paul George agreed to stay with their current teams, it looked like the Lakers could get shut out of the free-agent derby again.

But Johnson felt the pressure to make his mark, and responded with a coup in landing James 14 months after Lakers owner Jeanie Buss hired him.

Magic, who led LA to five NBA titles, has more chores to do. He will have to entice former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to leave San Antonio and come play for his hometown team. Johnson will also have to hone a core of free agents, including All-Star Rajon Rondo, to back up James in the tough Western Conference.

With James’ arrival, Lakers supporters in a territory that includes the biggest Filipino basketball fan base outside of the Philippines, have smiles on their faces and a spring in their steps, says Miramon Nuevo, formerly of the Manila Daily Tribune and now working for the Diocese of LA.

“LeBron will provide the leadership for young Lakers like Lonzo Ball and the veteran newcomers like Javale McGee and Lance Stephenson,” Nuevo said.

And so with James, can the Lakers contend again after a 35-win season?

“Yes, with a credible supporting cast he did not have in Cleveland, ” said ex-Manila Chronicle Sports editor Mike Genovea, now a resident of California’s Bay Area.

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A supporter of the reigning NBA champs, the Golden State Warriors, Genovea agrees with other observers that the greatest basketball player in the world seems largely impervious to the effects of aging.

But at 33, there is an urgency for LeBron to help LA get back to championship form, Mike said.

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TAGS: Basketball, Facebook, Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Tessa Jazmines
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