The Los Angeles Lakers “Next Man Up” mentality is something that has been a massive part of the Laker’s success this season. All the injuries that’ve been occurring, players are embracing the opportunities to step up and play prominent roles. The leadership of the Lakers is one of the main reasons players are ready when their number is called upon to step up and make plays. Lebron James, Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard had fierce playoff battles against one another throughout their careers, and to bring them together now helps prepare for a championship run together. James said, “Competition is competition. As long as it doesn’t get disrespectful outside the lines of basketball, then you can always pair up with a guy you’ve had battles against your whole career. Now we’re all working together. We are here together and trying to figure out how battles against other guys in the playoffs and be as great as we can be.” The history between the three veterans helps maintain good vibes in the locker room and keeps players like Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels ready when their number is called to play.
As a professional, you want to stay motivated and be able to put your best foot forward when the opportunity comes. Daniels has been one of the players who had stepped up when injuries occurred, and he’s embraced every moment. “It’s something I’ve dedicated my career too so far. You never know when your number is going to get called so you have to be ready to play. So far, I’ve been ready to play.” Daniels also got a chance to speak on the “Next Man Mentality.” It’s a mindset. Guys like me, Kuz and AC sometimes are not in rotation, you never know if you gone play or not. So you always have to have your mind right and be ready to play.” Daniels mentioned that his non-believers are the people that fuels him, when his back is against the wall, that when he’s at his best. “I love hearing doubters talk. I love to go on social media to see what people have to say. I transfer that too when I’m working out or playing in the game,” says Daniels.
Cook understands this is what he signed up for. He knows his role on the team and he embraces every moment. “With all this talent on this team, some nights it might be your night, some nights it won’t be. For me, it’s stay consumed with winning. Stay coming early and leaving late. That has been my motto the last two years playing on championship teams; Learning has been great for me thus far,” says Cook.
In the last couple of years, Cook has had championship experience playing for the Warriors, and he’s come up big for them in the playoffs multiple times. Staying ready has never been an issue for him. Sometimes the championship experience Cook brings can be undervalued. The Lakers center Javale Mcgee says, “He and TD are true professionals. Quinn coming from Oakland, he already has that championship mindset. He knows what he needs to do to stay in shape, and keeps his mind ready for when the opportunity comes. He takes advantage of it every time.” Mcgee also says, “I don’t think people realize he was also a key component in the culture of winning those championships.
Howard understands that the time is now for the veteran Lakers. The Laker’s mindset this season is to win a championship or failure. He says, “Every moment counts on the floor. We try to go out there and win. We understand we don’t have all that time to play around. So we go out there and do all we can. All the guys on this team has been in a position where they have been the guy on the team. So we all know how to step up when needed.” The Lakers have one of the best records in the NBA, and their chemistry on the court is undeniable. They are enjoying each other’s presence and having fun together. Lakers center Javale Mcgee says, “Everybody is just focused. We’re all focused on the same thing, which is winning. We’re not worried about anybody else’s stats or our stats. We’re just trying to go out there and play the right way, and we win.” When you have a selfless team that is determined to win and makes sacrifices for each other, you are bound to do great things. It also reflects on the younger guys that don’t get as much playing time.
Watch out for the Lakers as they aspire to finish the season strong.