Ramon Sessions enjoys celebrity life as a Laker
Ramon Sessions still is getting used to pictures being snapped every time he walks out of the Los Angeles hotel he is using as his temporary home. Even famed actor and Los Angeles Lakers fan Jack Nicholson recently stopped him at a ballgame for a conversation.
After playing outside the spotlight in Milwaukee, Minnesota, Cleveland and in the D-League, Sessions’ profile has risen as the new point guard for the Lakers. But with his newfound celebrity Sessions inherits immense pressure to be the missing piece to a championship.
“It’s a little different being in Cleveland, Milwaukee and Minneapolis,” Sessions told Yahoo! Sports. “The people in those cities really knew who you are. But now I got people around the world that know who I am now.”
The Lakers haven’t had a young, intimidating offensive threat at point guard since Nick Van Exel was dealt to the Denver Nuggets in 1998. Los Angeles’ need was glaring last season when veteran Derek Fisher and reserve Steve Blake struggled defensively against the long list of young NBA point guards.
Sessions was on the Lakers’ radar since last year. He fit their needs as a well-rounded, 6-foot-3, 190-pounder who averaged 13.3 points, 5.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds for the Cavaliers last season.
“Sessions is a little bit underrated. He’s a solid point guard,” Spurs All-Star guard Tony Parker said.
Typically, NBA players hate to be the subject of trade rumors. But talk of possibly being a Laker didn’t bother Sessions because it was an opportunity to play for a championship contender. Moreover, the former Nevada star was backing up likely NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving and the rebuilding Cavs.
Los Angeles was rumored to be interested in Utah Jazz point guard Devin Harris and Portland Trail Blazers point guard Raymond Felton. It settled on acquiring Sessions and shooting guard Christian Eyenga from Cleveland for forward Luke Walton, guard Jason Kapono, a first-round pick and other considerations on March 15. In the process, the Lakers also dealt the beloved Fisher and a first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for forward-center Jordan Hill.
“It was rumored last year, rumored all summer,” Sessions said. “When it finally happened I was like, ‘Hey man, I’m going to L.A. now to compete, play for a championship and play for an organization that if not the best is one of the best in the league.’ It was definitely a dream come true.”
Now come lofty expectations for a player who hasn’t ever been in the playoffs.
“I don’t think it’s pressure,” said Sessions, who entered the league in 2007. “If it is I really enjoy it and thrive for that stuff. I’m a competitor. Right now, I’m at the highest stage you can play in, in the NBA being on a championship-caliber team and being the star point guard for it. It’s definitely a challenge I look forward to.”
Sessions has averaged 13.3 points, 6.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds through seven games with Los Angeles. Lakers coach Mike Brown already has noticed leadership skills and no fear in joining All-Star guard Kobe Bryant in the backcourt. Bryant is impressed, too. “He can score, get in the lane and make plays for others,” Bryant said. “He can flat out play.”
Sessions didn’t know Bryant before the trade. Once they met at the Lakers’ practice facility, Sessions says the first thing Bryant told him was, “Let’s win a ring.”
“Kobe respects my game, and I definitely respect his game,” Sessions said. “He is one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Being in the backcourt with him, I feel like I can definitely take a burden off his shoulders, let him do what he does and not worry about creating for someone else.”
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After being bought out by the Rockets, Fisher considered the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls before signing with the Western Conference power Oklahoma City Thunder. Fisher returns to Los Angeles on Thursday night when his Thunder visit the Lakers, who have the third-best record in the West at 31-19. While Sessions appears to be the Lakers’ point guard of the future, Fisher’s past success that included five titles won’t be forgotten.
“It’s going to be strange with him going out to the visiting locker room,” said Bryant, who joined Fisher with the Lakers in 1996. “It’s going to be strange. I talk to him pretty much every single day still. In terms of our personal relationship there hasn’t been any separation in that sense. But seeing him coming into Staples Center in a different uniform will be extremely, extremely weird for us all.”
Lost in all the adulation over Sessions is his $4.5 million player’s option for the 2012-13 season. He would warrant a big pay day if he opts out. The Myrtle Beach, S.C., native, however, says the Lakers have a solid chance of keeping him.
“I’m just going to let it play out until the end of this season and just see how it goes,” Sessions said. “It’s nothing that’s been brought up [with management]. We’re [considering] the whole situation with them trading for me, though. I’m not worrying about it.
“I want to be here at the end of the day. I want to be here for sure. I’m sure we will figure it out.”
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