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Ramon Sessions Hopes to Return to Lakers
Posted By Alex Kennedy On May 28, 2012 @ 5:22 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
It didn’t take long for Ramon Sessions to realize that playing for the Los Angeles Lakers is different than playing for small-market teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers. Within two weeks of joining the Lakers, Sessions was being recognized all over Los Angeles, followed by paparazzi and chased by fans.
“I was staying in a hotel right by the practice facility at first and I would see some fans waiting out back when I left,” Sessions said. “One time, I parked in the front of the hotel and started walking down the hallway. The next thing I know, there are five fans running after me in the hallway. It was crazy. They came out of nowhere and they were coming at me. I was just thinking, ‘What is going on?’”
“Nobody knows what its like,” Sessions said with a laugh. “People may think they know, but they don’t have any idea how much different it is to be a Laker. No disrespect to the other places that I’ve been, but it’s totally different out here. Even just walking around, it’s crazy. It’s the Lakers. You’re on T.V. every night and everyone knows who you are. I had paparazzi follow me. That’s a first, for sure. It’s wild out here. The Lakers are the show that everyone watches around here.”
Sessions’ stint with the Lakers was successful, but chaotic. The point guard averaged 12.7 points and 6.2 assists during the regular season, despite joining the team in March and having to learn everything on the fly with limited practice time. During this condensed season, it was very difficult for traded players to adjust to their new surroundings and Sessions admits that the transition wasn’t easy.
“It was definitely challenging,” Sessions said. “The shortened season was already tough. Then, to be traded to a team like the Lakers with a different system was even tougher. There aren’t as many pick-and-rolls as you would normally run in a typical NBA system and there are all kinds of different calls. To be honest, I’ve been for here 50 or 60 days and I only had one legit practice where we really got in and got some actual work done. That’s just how this season was. I was learning everything on the go. I was really learning through games. I was still learning stuff at the end of the season that you would normally learn during training camp. I was picking those things up right before the playoffs.”
Not only was Sessions trying to adjust to a new city, new team, new coaching staff, new system and new role as a starter, he was also getting used to his new teammates. There is a lot of pressure that comes with being the Lakers’ newly acquired floor general, and it’s not easy being the new guy who has to distribute the ball to Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and others. While having so many weapons can make a point guard’s job easy, it can also make things frustrating when everyone wants the ball in their hands.
“It was difficult to come in being the new guy and also the young guy when you have Kobe, Bynum, Pau and Metta, guys who want the ball, and it’s your job to get them the ball,” Sessions said. “You have to know where they want it, know all of the plays, know where everyone is supposed to be at all times and also try to get your own. It was definitely a challenge, but it’ll definitely make me a better player next year. I learned a lot from this whole transition.”
Sessions had some big shoes to fill when he arrived in Los Angeles. Derek Fisher had been the Lakers’ point guard for 13 seasons, won five championships with the team and hit a number of big shots over the years. Then, just like that, he was traded and replaced on the same day. When Sessions first learned that he was being traded to the Lakers, he didn’t know that Los Angeles had dealt Fisher in a separate trade. In fact, he was preparing to serve as Fisher’s back-up until he learned of the Lakers’ second trade.
“When I found out about the trade, I didn’t know who was involved, but I knew that Fish wasn’t in the trade,” Sessions said. “I was thinking they were going to bring me in to back-up Fish. Then, when they traded him, I was just thinking, ‘Man, they’re opening the door for me to run the show.’ It was a dream come true. It really didn’t hit me until I flew to L.A. the next day, saw my jersey in the locker and took the floor with those guys.”
“It’s hard to replace a guy who is legendary around here,” Sessions added. “He’s done so much for the organization. I just tried to come in and play my game. The fans were great. In my first game, I got a standing ovation when I came in. It’s been all positive from the fans. They seemed excited to have me around. I just wish things would have worked out differently and we would’ve gone further.”
The Lakers were eliminated by Fisher’s new team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, in the Conference Semifinals round of the 2012 postseason. Looking back, Sessions feels that Los Angeles let several games get away from them, which was the difference maker in the series.
“We just weren’t finishing the games,” Sessions said. “We played a great 43 or 44 minutes. In Game 2, we had a seven point lead with two minutes left. In Game 4, we were in a similar situation at home. In the playoffs, you have to execute throughout the whole game and we had some lapses toward the end of the game here and there. Oklahoma City played well, but we definitely let a couple of games slip away. That’s the playoffs. Now, we live and we learn and move on.”
With the offseason underway, Sessions has a difficult decision to make. He has a player option for next season and he has yet to decide what the future holds. He can opt-out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent or he can opt-in and make $4,551,626 next season. Over the next few weeks, Sessions will weigh his options and make a decision.
“This is really my first day off after getting done with the season and meetings. It’s something that I haven’t thought about, but it’s definitely something that I have to start thinking about in the next few weeks. I have to make a decision by June 20. It’s one of those things where I’m just going to sit down and look at everything. I’m going to really evaluate the situation and see what’s out there before I decide whether I’m going to opt-out or opt-in. It’s not a decision I’ve made yet, but it’s something I’ll think about over the next couple of weeks and try to figure out what I’m going to do,” Sessions said.
Either way, Sessions would love to return to the Lakers. He enjoyed his brief stint with the team and believes that general manager Mitch Kupchak wants him back in purple and gold next season.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Sessions said when asked if he’d like to return to the Lakers. “Talking to Mitch before I left, they definitely want me back and I’d love to come back. This is a first-class organization. There are banners all over the gym and there’s a lot of history here. From the top to the bottom, everything was great. They’re first class all around.”
This summer, Sessions will keep his Lakers’ role in mind as he goes through offseason workouts and tries to expand his game.
“I’m going to work on playing off the ball, especially if things work out and I’m back here,” Sessions said. “Playing off the ball is different than having the ball in your hands. I’m going to work on spot-up threes and other shots that I got in this offense. Those are shots that I normally didn’t get because I’d have the ball in my hands for the majority of the time. I’ll also be keeping my body right, getting shots up and working on all aspects of my game. I want to get better and be a complete player.”
While Sessions enjoyed his two-month stint with the Lakers, he hopes his best days with the team have yet to come. With a traditional season, actual practices and some time to get acclimated, Sessions is confident that the group could accomplish big things.
“I think having a full season with the guys, things would be different,” Sessions said. “It kind of felt like I was rushed, playing and trying to do this or do that. With a full season, I think the sky is the limit for us.”
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