Read the full story on SportsLook - Rui Hachimura Endorsing a Championship Mentality Ahead of NBA Season
Rui Hachimura has sky-high self-expectations for himself on a championship contender Los Angeles Lakers squad. He and his teammates spent the second half of the 2022-23 season exceeding expectations.
Last season, when all-time great LeBron James went down with a foot injury in late February, the Lakers nestled in the Western Conference basement in 12th place with a 29-32 record. Anthony Davis carried his team to a 8-5 record in James' absence. With LeBron, aka King James, returning, the Lakers became the best in the West after the All-Star Weekend with a 16-7 record.
What happened next?
The Lakers completed the regular season with a 43-39 record and reached the Western Conference finals, but were swept by the eventual champions, the Denver Nuggets.
After the defeat and a subsequent long off-season, Hachimura spoke about his team's championship mindset.
"This team, we have a championship [outlook], we have bigger goals, so the motivation is different," he said on Day 3 of preseason training camp in early October. (Watch footage of Hachimura's interview, starting at the 4:46 mark after Lakers coach Darvin Ham's on this video on YouTube.)
Later in the interview session with reporters, Hachimura pointed out, "Everybody wants to win here, so it's good energy, good vibes."
Not only is the bar set high, having brushed shoulders with a championship team, the Lakers aim to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy, once again.
Los Angeles opens its season on the road on Tuesday night, October 24 (8:30 AM JST on Wednesday) against the reigning champion Nuggets.
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Author: Terukazu Ikeda
Ikeda is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has contributed reporting to Raptors Republic, The Canadian (quarterly publication of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan), and other media outlets.