Playing on their 20th season, Kobe Bryant, arguably the greatest Laker of all-time, faces off with, Kevin Garnett, arguably the greatest Timberwolves of all-time, in their first game of the season.
Sixteen championships and a long list of legends – the NBA’s LA Lakers is one of the most celebrated franchises in all sports. However, since claiming their last championship in 2010, injuries and roster changes have pushed the team to nearly the bottom of the standings for the last two years.
At the start of a new season, however, Lakers fans finally have reasons to be optimistic. In addition to strengthening their core with Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russel, Lou Williams and Roy Hibbert, 2015 sees the return of the Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant who, due to injury, has only played 41 games over the past two years.
In their first game of the season, Bryant and the new-look Lakers faced the Minnesota Timberwolves, led by 15-time All-Star Kevin Garnett. For the Timberwolves, the game was especially significant, being their first following the recent passing of their head coach and general manager Flip Saunders earlier this week.
The Timberwolves appeared on the court with uniforms bearing commemorative patch and special warm up shirts with “FLIP” stitched on them. Kevin Garnett, whom Saunders “discovered”, requested the team to keep a seat vacant in honor of their beloved leader.
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 27, 2015
“Everybody here is because of Flip,” said Timberwolves shooting guard Zach LaVine. “He had his hands in everybody that came here. He saw a vision in each and every person. It’s just, you’ve got to keep on that legacy, and what happened is so tragic, but we’ve got to keep going for him.”
Whether it was for a renewed shot at championship glory or in honor of the their beloved coach, the two teams that hit the hardwood this morning faced off to pay tribute to the game they love.