L.A. fans celebrate LeBron James' Staples Center debut as a Laker

Yahoo Sports
The <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/lal" data-ylk="slk:Lakers">Lakers</a>’ biggest star made his Los Angeles debut Saturday against Houston.
The Lakers’ biggest star made his Los Angeles debut Saturday against Houston.

It’s showtime in La-La Land.

Or, Happy LeBron James-Staples Center-debut day in Los Angeles. This is the day Los Angeles Lakers fans have been waiting for since Kobe Bryant retired in 2016 and the energy was palpable.

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The (not-so) grand entrance

The fans couldn’t help themselves. The moment of silence was not so silent as the teams stood on the floor waiting for the game to start.


After the boos for former Laker coach Mike D’Antoni, the show they were waiting for began – the introduction. The hype video, filled with dunks, highlight plays and photos of the players was aired on large screens in the middle of the court.

The four other non-LeBron players – Brandon Ingram, Rajon RondoKentavious Caldwell-Pope and JaVale McGee – were introduced first.

Then came James who received an extended applause, but surprisingly little other fanfare as he jogged onto the court.


Fans were likely just as bewildered at the less-than-enthusiastic opening that he received.




Fan messages

Tickets were hard to come by, with the cheapest tickets going for $200 online before game time, but still the fans came out in full force for James.

L.A. Live was packed with No. 23 jerseys and there were posters with lines of fans signing messages for the King.

Celebrities had their own messages, some were aired on TV leading up to the game.

Justin Timberlake, a longtime Lakers fan, celebrated the return of great basketball. While comedian Bill Hader joked that he didn’t know exactly who LeBron was or what he did, the city seemed excited.

Even Mayor Eric Garcetti got in on the LeBron action.


Painting the town LeBron

The LeBron show kicked off hours before the game. Billboards, ads and messages were all over the city, dedicated to L.A.’s new star.

Beats got in on the hype with a larger-than-life, building-sized painting.


While Nike went the digital route, releasing a new ad for the Hollywood-like story of a kid from Akron turned NBA legend.


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