Opening Night was supposed to be a celebration for the Lakers but they decided to save a big piece for later.
The Lakers‘ Opening Night matchup with the Clippers was supposed to be a jubilant celebration, a party to recognize the franchise’s 17th title, won less than three months ago. The Lakers will receive their championship rings but they have decided to save part of the celebration for later, announcing that they won’t be unveiling their championship banner for the 2019-20 season.
According to ESPN, “The Lakers will have a black cloak covering the 2019-20 championship banner for opening night, with the message, ‘Stay tuned, Lakers family,’ printed in gold block letters on it.”
Why won’t the Lakers unveil their championship banner on Opening Night?
The Lakers made this decision, perhaps unsurprisingly, because they won’t have any fans in the arena. Current public health protocols in the state of California for the COVID-19 pandemic don’t allow spectators at sporting events. The Lakers have decided they’d rather wait to unveil the banner when it’s safe to have their community there in person to share in the moment.
Lakers’ president of business operations, Tim Harris, spoke with ESPN about the thinking behind the decision, saying, “For the banner, we’re missing part of that. We’re missing a component to it, and that is the people who are a big part of winning this, and that’s the fans. So we’ll wait.”
While fans gathered around the Staples Center on the night the Lakers’ clinched the title in the Orlando bubble, the team also hasn’t been able to hold an official parade either. Vaccines are now being rolled out but it will be a lengthy process and cases are continuing to spike around the country, preventing the easing of restrictions on public gatherings. If this season goes the way the Lakers are hoping, maybe things will be safe this summer in time for them to hold a parade celebrating back-to-back titles.