MANILA, Philippines – Despite the fear of the NBA canceling its season, Los Angeles Lakers general manager and vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka has his fingers crossed that the league will return.
"All of us hope there's a way to have an NBA champion crowned," Pelinka said during an online conference. "That is something the whole world and sports fans and NBA fans hope."
But the Lakers GM knows that the current situation is more than just basketball, and emphasized that the safety of the players and workers are the league's priority.
"The reason I have that hope is not for personal accomplishment. It's more that I think it could be the best thing for the world," Pelinka said. "Going back to that Nelson Mandela quote, I think sports can really be powerful and I think all of us miss it."
The Lakers held a 49-14 record for the top spot in the Western Conference before the league got suspended on March 11.
Pelinka said his squad passed all the tests they faced this season and remained optimistic that the Lakers could take the "final exam."
"We haven't had a chance to take a final exam yet," the GM said. "We do hope we get a chance to finish what we started."
Aside from discussing the potential continuation of the season, Pelinka also mentioned that the late Kobe Bryant is "especially missed" in this kind of situation. Bryant died last January in a helicopter crash.
"If you were on a knight's journey with him and a huge fire-breathing dragon ended up in the pathway ahead, he could say, 'Okay, you know, this is why this is good right now, we're going to meet this challenge. Here's how we're going to get around it and here's how we're going to defeat it.'"
"That was just his nature, that obstacles or hard times would lead somehow to growth. And I think that's the way I'm going to look at 2020, not just in terms of the loss of Kobe but just in general, I think some of these hard times, we have to grow through to get stronger," Pelinka said.
Pelinka, one of Bryant's closest friends, got emotional after it was announced the Lakers great will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"I think all of us are heartbroken that he couldn't be there to receive that honor in person. But I have a level of confidence he's with us in spirit and still is celebrating that," Pelinka said. – Rappler.com