On the front end of a back-to-back, the Los Angeles Lakers host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night at Staples Center. Then, the team packs into a plane that same night, says goodbye to Southern California and takes off on a basketball tour.
For two weeks, the Lakers will roam like nomads across North America.
First, the team will experience a night in the Phoenix desert. Two games on consecutive nights offer a difficult start to the trip, but at least Phoenix is not covered in ice.
After Phoenix, the weather drops rather rapidly. The Lakers visit three of the coldest cities in the NBA. Boston, Toronto and Chicago may be frigid, but they are three of North America’s greatest metropolises. After the wind chill and clattering teeth of Chicago, the Lakers will take a flight down to Miami to enjoy the Florida sunshine.
A couple days on the beach will be nice, but Orlando is waiting on the second night of a back-to-back, so the Lakers will leave as quickly as they came.
Before boarding a flight home, however, the NBA will provide the Lakers one more reminder of how the rest of the country feels this time of year. The Lakers play at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks on Jan. 26. The cold of New York will linger as the Lakers fly home that same night.
Then, two nights later, the Indiana Pacers will come to visit Staples Center.
By the time the players play the Indiana game and crawl into their own beds, the Lakers will have taken eight flights in 15 days and played nine games over a baker’s fortnight.