The Los Angeles Lakers have a long history filled with superstars, many of whom have their numbers retired and their jerseys hanging in the rafters of the Staples Center. One such player is Jamaal Wilkes, the All-Star small forward who helped bring three championships to Los Angeles.
Wilkes has remained connected to the Lakers since retiring in 1986, and his son, Jordon, is currently a basketball operations assistant with the team. The Lakers like to bring their Hall-of-Fame alumni back to meet with the team when they can, so it’s no surprise that Wilkes was in attendance at training camp in Santa Barbara.
NBA TV sat down with Wilkes to discuss what the team needs to do in order to get back to their winning ways.
“It helped to have Dr. Buss and Jerry West and Bill Sharman and those guys….I think this year it’s going to involve a lot of trust and a lot of patience, and a lot of learning. A core group that’s going to have to take responsibility and hold each other accountable.”
Wilkes is certainly right that a lot of learning is going to have to take place this season. The Lakers employ not only a young roster but also a young coaching staff with 36-year-old Luke Walton at the helm. With star guard Kobe Bryant now retired, the club is clearly entering a new era, which Wilkes notes also gives ownership to the team’s core:
“I think they have to try and clean the slate. It was such an unusual year to have an iconic Laker such as Kobe, and the media circus around it, retire. I think they have to clean the slate and they have to realize that it’s up to them.”
It’s going to be an interesting season in Los Angeles as the Lakers attempt to develop their stars of the future. If all goes according to plan, they will use this season to set a foundation to build upon for years to come.