The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets have a rivalry that continues to build as the start of the season approaches.
ESPN personality Keyshawn Johnson recently expressed his support for the Los Angeles Lakers while criticizing the Denver Nuggets for mocking the most successful franchise in NBA history after winning just their first championship.
On an episode of Fox Sports’ Undisputed, the 51-year-old NFL Legend emphasized how the Nuggets will feel the pressure from LeBron James and his group throughout each of their meetings next season, in addition to supporting the Purple and Gold to defeat the “distracted” Nuggets on the opening night to spoil their ring celebration.
"“You won your first championship banner while we got 17 hanging. LeBron (and) Austin Reaves, focused in on Game 1,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t be shocked if the Lakers won that game just because of the simple fact that they focused on something else.”"
Whether it’s coach Michael Malone being referred to as the “Lakers’ Daddy” or chastising LeBron James on the Pat McAfee Show, it appears that not just Anthony Davis but also Austin Reaves has taken the onus of not only spoiling the Nuggets’ ring night but even making them aware of who the Lakers truly are.
"“It’s a good opportunity to go rain on their parade… Their emotions are gonna be high,” Reaves said. “Malone has said a lot of stuff after the fact. He kept dragging it out on and on… it’s just a good opportunity for us to go try and make a statement the first game.”"
Keyshawn Johnson tells Denver Nuggets to ‘Act like a Champion
Despite Denver winning the championship weeks after sweeping the Purple and Gold in the Western Conference Finals, Johnson highlighted how the Lakers players were only outraged by the continuous barbs coach Malone and his staff threw at them throughout their championship parade.
"“I’m sure Denver and Mike Malone, their head coach, certainly understands what he said, when he said it, and it’s going to register throughout every single game that they play with Denver throughout the year,” Johnson added."
In the end, Johnson gave tough counsel to the 2023 NBA Champions in what may turn out to be the beginning of a new, hotly contested rivalry in the Western Conference.
"“Act like a champion (just) act like you’ve been there before,” concluded the former Super Bowl Champ."