The budding rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets is rooted primarily in how the Western Conference Finals played out last year and the constant shots being taken by the Nuggets in the months since. But there is also a little personal connection as well with former Laker and 2020 Champion Kentavious Caldwell-Pope now in Denver.
While the Lakers’ roster is almost completely different from that 2020 championship team, the two mainstays are LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both of whom remain in touch with Caldwell-Pope to this day.
In fact, Caldwell-Pope recently revealed that he and his former Lakers teammates exchanged words ahead of the Western Conference Finals last season, and are still going back and forth leading up to Opening Night, via Sirius XM NBA Radio:
“Last year, I think it was the series before the Western Conference Finals and I had reached out to him, like, ‘Hey, man. I’ve just been watching y’all, doing great, man. Keep it up!’ Such and such… But then he was like, ‘Yeah, can’t wait to see y’all in the Western Conference Finals.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, we ready.’ But just having that camaraderie with your friends and being able to play against them as well, it’s always good. They’re my brothers still. But we had to give ’em that butt whooping. It was personal, but it wasn’t personal. We did something that they haven’t done in a long time as far as the Lakers getting swept, and for us making history as far as making the Finals for the first time.”
“We’ve been talking back and forth. They’ve been talking to some of my other teammates and they can’t wait for the first game. Same here!”
This contest between the Lakers and Nuggets is one of the most anticipated Opening Night games in many years. While the back and forth is friendly between Davis, LeBron and Caldwell-Pope, the same isn’t necessarily the case with others involved such as coaches Michael Malone and Darvin Ham.
The Nuggets felt like they weren’t getting the respect they deserved after taking out the Lakers while L.A. feels like unnecessary shots were taken at them after the series was long finished. Whatever the case, the time for talking is almost done and what happens on the court will speak loudest.
Lakers’ Gabe Vincent expected to play in season opener vs. Nuggets; Jarred Vanderbilt likely out
The Lakers made some new additions this offseason in order to overtake the Nuggets and after some worries, one of the most important will definitely be on the court on Opening Night.
Gabe Vincent, who has dealt with lower back tightness, is expected to be available for the Lakers on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for defensive ace Jarred Vanderbilt. Many believed he would be starting for the Lakers, but a heel injury kept him out for most of the preseason and he is unlikely to suit up.
Another new addition, Taurean Prince, has been named the fifth starter for the Lakers after a strong performance in the preseason.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!