The Lakers’ In-Season Tournament (IST) run has been a whole lot of fun for a number of reasons. The most important and obvious reason for that has to do with the Lakers actually winning games.
Their undefeated run has certainly helped fans buy into the tournament as a whole and has led to the jokes flying. Now, though, the Lakers are one game away from actually winning the whole thing, which has raised an obvious, if not possibly overlooked, question.
Are they going to hang a banner?
There is clearly no precedent for this, which makes the decision an interesting one for whichever team wins on Saturday. Unfortunately, the Lakers may be setting the not-so-fun criterion on the matter.
I’m told the Lakers currently have no plans to change their stance on only hanging banners for NBA championships. They don’t hang banners for Western Conference titles, Pacific Division titles and (for now) potential NBA In-Season Tournament titles, only NBA titles.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 8, 2023
It wouldn’t be too harsh to say the Lakers have a pretty…pretentious approach to things like this. That being said, you’re afforded the ability to be selective when you’ve won 17 NBA titles.
I mean, if they started hanging Western Conference titles (19) and Pacific Division titles (33) alongside their retired numbers (13), there wouldn’t even be enough room for the Clippers to hang their selfies.
The Lakers are afforded this level of pretentiousness because of how successful they’ve been. And, again, this sentence is about to sound awfully pompous but other franchises probably would hang this banner, the Pacers included, and it would be fine.
I do think there’s a non-zero chance that two things will happen: the IST becomes a legitimate thing in the coming years and hanging banners for it will become much more commonplace and also the league very well may have something to say about the Lakers not hanging the banner.
This has been a fun run in the inaugural IST, but nobody in the organization has seemed particularly motivated by it being a title to win or banner to hang, but instead, money to go in their pocket. It’s the reality of the competition for lots of teams. Perhaps that changes in the future, but for now, the spirit of #TheCup hasn’t permeated the league.
It feels like the most probable conclusion would be a banner being hung somewhere that isn’t alongside the championship banners, but all that is presuming the Lakers even win on Saturday.
So, knock on some wood and hope this is a debate we get to have after Saturday.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.