Austin Reaves’ star is steadily rising as a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers — for various reasons.
In mid-December, he buried a game-winner on the road to give the Lakers a win against the Dallas Mavericks on national television. In their 106-96 victory against the Brooklyn Nets he became a meme. LeBron James was explaining something to the rookie they call “Hillbilly Kobe,” and the look on Reaves’ face expressed something between confused and horrified. The internet had a lot of fun with that picture, including James. He put the picture on his Instagram page along with another picture and a quote from a conversation between Peter Parker and Tony Stark from Spiderman: Homecoming.
Reaves has found himself in another interesting photo.
The Los Angeles Lakers decided to see a little bit of America while on their annual Grammy road trip — which it’s not even, this year, because the event has been delayed until April and moved to Las Vegas due to concerns about the recent COVID surge. Instead of boarding the charter to Philadelphia for their next game against the 76ers, they opted for the scenic route and decided to take the Amtrak.
It’s not a terrible idea. Why take off, land, and change air pressure in a short flight from New York to Philadelphia when, instead, you can just hop on the train for little more than an hour? In an 82-game season it’s nice to have a change of pace sometimes. Sure, taking a charter plane up down the East Coast for a couple weeks is certainly not the worst way to travel while on an extended business trip, but a well-timed break in the routine is always nice. Also, that must have been an interesting sight when some groggy passengers at 30th St. Station saw the Lakers on the train platform.
The Lakers posted pictures of their trip on social media, and in the bottom right image there Reaves, except he’s exiting from the coachclass train.
I understand a little socially acceptable rookie hazing since in a civilized society where we shouldn’t tape people to goal posts & basketball hoops, but coachclass? As funny as the thought of a stranger falling asleep on his shoulder is, the man has a nickname, a buzzer beater and a viral meme. He at least deserves business class. Or… maybe that’s just the door he chose to walk out of, or maybe the Lakers rented a whole train — LeBron could certainly afford that.
Of course James had sign off on this idea and maybe his maiden voyage on the subway with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 has left him open to try new things.The team opted to circumvent traffic by taking the subway instead of the bus from shootaround to their hotel the morning before a game against the New York Knicks. It provided a memorable, uniquely New York City moment, when James tried to include a passenger in a video and that man, likely on his way to work, wanted nothing to do with James’ shenanigans.
Maybe this leisurely Amtrak ride will be one of those team bonding moments for the Lakers that changes a season. The Lakers are 2-1 so far on this trip and Davis returned to the lineup on Tuesday. They could go on a run here, and maybe after a few playoff upsets in the spring, James will tell the story at a press conference of how the time the team spent traveling like simple Americans brought them closer together.
And the next time Reaves does something that warrants him speaking to the media after the game, someone needs to ask him: What section did you sit in on that Amtrak.