The Lakers (…including the Laker girls…) are approximately 24 hours into their eight-day Euro trip and jet lag should be setting in anytime now. Before they take on the T-Wolves in London on Monday, they’ll get a chance to fulfill one of Kobe’s lifelong dreams by attending a Premier League soccer match between English rivals Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. The Lakers are used to playing in hostile environments such as Boston and Oklahoma City, but for those who haven’t had a chance to visit Stamford Bridge in-person, think Arco Arena during the Kings heyday.
“When I was a kid growing up in Italy, my dream was—I used to go to Serie A (Italian league) games all the time, but I wanted to go watch a Premier game,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ finished practice Saturday. “And my mom would never let me go. I wanted to go watch Liverpool and stuff like that, and she was like ‘No, you’re not going.’ So now to finally have an opportunity some 20 years later to go watch a Premier game is incredible.”
European fans, who recently made Bryant’s jersey the top-selling jersey in Europe, feel the same way about the chance to see Kobe and the back-to-back champs—one reason why Andrew Kamenetzky from ESPN’s Land O’ Lakers says L.A. is the perfect team to represent the NBA on an international tour.
That this jaunt isn’t being treated like a vacation on somebody else’s dime is readily apparent. Yes, Odom expressed some interest in sightseeing and shopping (“Maybe getting my wife [Khloe Kardashian] some shoes”), and a Chelsea-Arsenal soccer match is among a few fun items on the itinerary. But the vibe upon undertaking this journey was uniformly business.
The L.A. Times’ Mike Bresnahan talks about the Lakers’ mindset heading into next season when nine of their 14 players are over the age of 30.
A handful of kilometers from the Lakers’ game in London will be a deeper, more symbolic occurrence, Big Ben continuing to chime every hour on the hour, a 151-year veteran that never tires, never disappoints and never needs knee surgery. Can this year’s Lakers withstand their own test of time, carving out another wedge of NBA lore despite nine of their 14 players being 30 or older?
Mike Trudell from Lakers.com is embedded with the team for the duration of their trip and is posting daily video clips from the team’s flight, practices and more.
You can get your first look at Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, Theo Ratliff and the rest of the 2010-2011 Lakers against Minnesota at 7 p.m. (delayed) on KCAL/9 this Monday. KCAL/9 will also air the game this Thursday against Spanish heavyweight FC Barcelona at 7 p.m. Cheers!