First, there was Jonas Never’s “The King of L.A.” piece, which drew eyeballs and, quickly, derision from the irrepressible cohort of Laker fans who believed such a distinction to be a slight to the legacy of lifelong Laker and youth-focused storytelling enthusiast Kobe Bryant. After multiple acts of vandalism to the piece, Never switched things up by removing the offending “of”; that, however, didn’t deter detractors, who continued to deface the wall until Never decided to just cover it up entirely.
While Never mulls his next LeBron-painting move, another artist, Gustavo Zermeño Jr., got busy with a piece that you’d imagine might sit a bit better with rabid Lakers fans. The folks at LeBron’s media company, Uninterrupted, captured the work in progress on Wednesday:
And Zermeño shared a look at the finished product on his Instagram story:
In the piece, a Lakers-jersey-clad James stares up at a handful of franchise legends — Bryant (depicted in his full jacket-and-trophy-in-the-shower splendor following the 2001 title), Shaquille O’Neal, current team president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain — who have played integral roles in delivering L.A.’s 16 NBA championships. It’s a neat reminder of the rarefied organizational air into which LeBron hopes to fly by joining the Lakers … and, perhaps, a tip of the cap to those sometimes touchy fans who want to make sure that everyone remembers that being one of the greatest players ever doesn’t necessarily make LeBron one of the greatest Lakers ever yet.
If James is able to lead this year’s somewhat curious band of Lakers past the Golden State Warriors to the promised land, of course, Zermeño would be within his rights to seek out a much, much taller wall where he could paint a picture of James, like, 45 feet above the other legends, looking down on them and making this face. For now, though, the painted King will just look up, double-teapotting like an older Lonzo, and ponder what it’ll take to jump up into the pantheon of the glamour franchise he hopes to rejuvenate … and the rest of us will hope that disgruntled types can just chill for, like, a second and let a cool picture stay up on a wall.
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