Lakers’ Timofey Mozgov receives NBA championship ring in Cleveland

first_imgCLEVELAND >> Just as he accepted his 2016 NBA championship ring at center court, Timofey Mozgov experienced something else that brought a huge smile to his face.Before his first game playing the Cleveland Cavaliers after leaving them last summer via free agency, Mozgov’s former teammates smothered him with a large hug. “I have a lot of attention today. I kind of like it,” Mozgov said before the Lakers’ 119-108 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena. “I see people smile and it makes me smile.”Mozgov has made the Lakers smile. The reasons go beyond Lakers coach Luke Walton raving about his defensive presence and mid-range shooting that has spurred season averages of 8.3 points and five rebounds per game. “He gets upset a lot, which is entertaining to the whole team and the staff because we don’t understand what he’s saying,” Walton said. “It literally happens every game. Everyone kind of finds humor in it.” The Lakers also found humor in Mozgov warning a Lakers staff attendant not to lose the ring. Several players also marveled at Mozgov’s ring by his locker. “If he wants to give it to me, I wouldn’t deny it,” Lakers forward Nick Young said. “Secret Santa gift.”Though Mozgov sounded grateful for the warm reception both among former teammates and fans, he experienced frustration last season. Then, Mozgov averaged only 6.3 points on 56.6 percent shooting and 4.4 rebounds after losing his starting spot and experiencing limitations with his surgically repaired right knee.Still, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue praised Mozgov for his work ethic and positive attitude. “You need great guys like (Mozgov) on the bench,” Lue said, “that support the right things.”Mozgov respectfully declined to revisit his free-agency decision that entailed signing with the Lakers to a four-year, $64 million deal. But he sounded in high spirits both over his health and playing for the Lakers. “I like it. We have a young good team and play hard,” said Mozgov, who had only two points and a missed dunk against Cleveland. “We grow up together.”Mixed emotionsWalton’s return to Cleveland brought conflicting feelings. He sounded in pain when asked if the former Golden State assistant rewatched Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals when the Cavaliers secured the NBA title by overcoming a 3-1 deficit. “You don’t get over losing Game 7’s,” Walton said. “It sticks with you for the rest of the life.”Although he “had a blast” in his lone season with the Cavaliers (2012-13) as a dependable veteran, that coincided with the Lakers trading him midway through the 2011-12 campaign. “It was really hard,” said Walton, who played for the Lakers from 2003 to 2012. That was the only team I ever played for and that was family.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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