Brook Lopez Living Childhood Dream as a Laker
Brook Lopez is a post-up monster, rangy 3-point shooter and Disney encyclopedia.
Sure, that last part might not help much on the court, but the Lakers’ new center does have an opinion on everything Disney.
Favorite live-action movie? Try “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” — a 1954 Technicolor film released more than four decades before he was born.
Favorite animated picture? Has to be “101 Dalmatians.” After all, he has always wanted to own a Dalmatian himself, though life on the NBA road has prevented him from getting a dog.
“I’m very nervous about this new ‘Mary Poppins,’” he says of the upcoming sequel. “… I kind of want them to let ‘Mary Poppins’ be its own thing.”
Lopez has been obsessed with Disney ever since his mother, Deborah Ledford, would take him and his siblings down to Anaheim for trips to Disneyland when they were kids.
It was during this same time that the North Hollywood native fell in love with the Showtime Lakers, led, of course, by current President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson.
And while Lopez may be a nine-year NBA vet, 2013 All-Star and the leading scorer in Brooklyn Nets history, he didn’t get to meet his idol until Johnson himself traded for him over the summer.
The moment 29 years in the making lived up to the hype.
“That’s like my top, favorite player of all-time,” Lopez says. “Just meeting him for the first time was like a true geek moment for me. Little Brook meeting Magic Johnson — that’s just insane.”
Little no more, the 7-footer nonetheless was awed to watch Magic dissect the game of basketball as the two watched a practice together shortly after his signing.
The prestige of being a Laker isn’t lost on Lopez, who soaks in everything from Johnson’s advice to a wall painted with Lakers logos at the UCLA Health Training Center.
“Just to be a part of that Laker tradition is really a dream come true,” he says. “Even looking at this little media (room) background and seeing the Lakers logo in purple and gold — it’s still a trip for me.”
Along with Magic, Lopez has been quick to make connections with his new teammates and coaching staff.
A former high school volleyball star, he already has plans to hit the beach courts with Luke Walton. But perhaps a more important relationship will be with second-overall-pick Lonzo Ball.
The 19-year-old point guard has Lopez’s approval heading into camp, as they have spent time figuring out where each likes to locate the ball in pick-and-rolls.
“It’s really been exciting … seeing how he thinks, how high of a basketball IQ he has for a player at his position and experience — let alone just in general,” Lopez says.
“… He impresses me with something new every day. I’m just so thrilled to get on the court with him and kind of learn on the fly.”
With Lonzo’s tempo-pushing style in mind, Lopez says the Lakers’ staff put an additional focus on conditioning over the offseason.
But even before getting to practice with Ball, Lopez was already on board after venturing to Las Vegas to see the teenager put on a show en route to Summer League MVP honors.
“It was such a treat and pleasure getting to see him play in Summer League,” Lopez says. “I thought he elevated the team we had out there just so high.”
Now it’s Lopez’s turn to try to elevate his squad.
“I want to be able to step onto the floor come opening night and show Lakers fans what I’m capable of doing and help the team by whatever means necessary,” he says.
Having been one himself for so long, Lopez puts a ton of emphasis on doing right by Lakers fans.
Back in Los Angeles for the past three months, he has run into plenty of Lakers supporters around the city. And there will surely be more waiting to meet him next time he takes the freeway down to Anaheim for a day at his favorite place.
Now that he’s a Laker, maybe he’ll be able to realize another dream of his: playing hoops on the court inside the Matterhorn. In the meantime, life is pretty good in Southern California.
“I’m hanging out at Disney (and) I’ve got Lakers fans supporting me,” he says. “It’s pretty freakin’ cool.”