first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error On the list of things Lakers fans should be nostalgic over, many things should of course rank higher than a building they likely never saw the inside of. Winning, for example.As team buildings go, little was truly special about the corner of the Toyota Sports Center the Lakers occupied. It was situated beneath a set of Metro rails, with a Green Line train rumbling by every 15 minutes. No signage announced that it was home to the Lakers. Players and coaches shared a skinny parking lot with the primary tenants of the complex, the L.A. Kings.And yet, this was the Lakers first home after they left The Forum and the first practice court they didn’t have to share with a local college or high school.It was where Kobe and Shaq practiced daily on their way to three championships; where Phil Jackson burned sage and beat his drum; where Jerry West and Dr. Buss supervised through large office windows.O’Neal’s Most Valuable Player news conference in 2000 was held inside this checkerboard concrete edifice, as were thousands of other media rap sessions, the most memorable of them involving Jackson and his jabs. When he called Sacramento fans “semi-civilized” and “maybe redneck in some form or fashion?” That was right here.It was through these walls that on Dec. 8, 2011, the news reverberated that Chris Paul would not be joining the Lakers after all. On this court, Bryant called his teammates “soft as Charmin.”It was here that Steve Nash retired. That Lonzo Ball held up his first Lakers jersey.The franchise with perhaps the NBA’s richest history will now operate out of a building that has none. And that is entirely fitting.“The young players now will have to start that history,” said Lisa Estrada, the Lakers director of gameday operations who is coordinating the move.The building is polished and clean, with “LAKERS” emblazoned in tall yellow lettering on its south end, a fitting emblem for a new era with charismatic new leadership. Before, the Lakers were almost in hiding, as if to say the only showing off they needed to do would be on the court at Staples Center.The new home screams glitz and glamour, the characteristics that have defined generations of Lakers basketball.After four years of losing, four Junes spent drafting in the lottery, it was time for an extreme makeover.The Toyota Sports Center was indeed a stage for some of the team’s greatest theater, but the era has not ended because they’ve left that building. It was already over because of those who were already gone – Kobe and Phil and trainer Gary Vitti; Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak. Each one of them a piece of history.The Lakers’ decorated past is so married to the franchise’s identity that at times it has felt like a shackle on the current group of eager young stars. Their own progression is so often judged against the backdrop of what came before.Saying goodbye to the Toyota Sports Center allows Ball and Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle to break loose of that history, at least symbolically. No player will ever again feel the pressure of being assigned Kobe’s old locker.In the shadow of the tracks of the Green Line, what was once the Lakers’ home court is now history itself, an office building and hockey rink that fans can point to as they zoom past, perhaps on the drive to the new facility, and quiz their kids: “Hey, do you know what that place used to be?” The Lakers had one more offseason move to make last week, and it had nothing to do with finding a back-up point guard. By the close of business Friday, green bins lined the halls of their El Segundo practice facility and headquarters, ready to be trucked to the team’s swanky new home.A lot of Lakers history was packed into those green tubs, just as much of it had been crammed into the 17 years the team spent on Nash Street.Before the team pulled up stakes last week — a farewell that included a company-wide champagne toast on the practice court — the nondescript concrete bunker had been home to the Lakers since they hurriedly moved in during the 2000 All-Star break. Four months later, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal won their first title.center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersOn Monday, the organization’s roughly 140 employees will report for work two blocks away at the state-of-the-art UCLA Health Training Center, an impressive compound with a team store for fans, a second regulation-sized court for practice, and seemingly endless technological bells and whistles for players.It will be an upgrade in every way. The Lakers are starting fresh with new executives, new stars and a new building.Before the Lakers blaze into a promising future, however, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the structure that over the course of nearly two decades was home to five championship teams, a parade of superstars and the NBA’s most legendary feud.“It’s bittersweet,” Jeanie Buss said Friday as she sat across the hall from the office she inherited from her dad, Dr. Jerry Buss, and picked at a humble final supper of takeout Mexican food. “This place has been really good. … It’s like closing a chapter.”The 10 championship trophies Buss displays in her corner office were ready for the move, protected by customized black hoods. Moving had unearthed memorabilia, stirred memories. Much of it was significant to the Lakers legacy of 16 championships. Some of it less so. (Alison Bogli, the Lakers director of media relations, filled a box with old uniforms that were stored in her office, including four Slava Medvedenko jerseys.)last_img

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