After the Los Angeles Lakers received their 2020 championship rings, just before their regular-season debut against the LA Clippers, there was something missing from the ceremony: a banner. The Lakers put off hoisting their 17th NBA Championship banner for one reason: their fans.
"We won't be unveiling a banner because we want to wait for the fans on that," Lakers president Tim Harris told ESPN. "When you win a championship, the championship has a lot of quote-unquote owners. A championship belongs to the team, it belongs to the players, it belongs to the fans.”
The Lakers' choice to put off lifting their banner highlights how strange the end of the 2020 season and 2020-21 season truly was. There have been no fans at NBA games since the league shut down on March 10th
The difference between playing in an empty arena and with fans was noted by players when the NBA returned for the end of the 2020 season in the bubble in Orlando. The 2020-21 season will also have no fans, although the league is allowing teams to have them if their state allows it.
The Lakers organization recognizes the importance of its fanbase. The move highlights the emotional intensity that came with the Orlando bubble.
Last season saw the death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and the Coronavirus pandemic altering the lives of people across the globe, so it is nice that LA wants to wait for their fans. The Lakers never got to have a championship parade for their victory either; it will be interesting to see what they will do once herd immunity is reached with the COVID-19 vaccine.