In a flash, the Los Angles Lakers transitioned from rebuilding a storied NBA franchise amid a down period to featuring a potential championship contender by bringing aboard 14-time All-Star LeBron James in free agency.
Head coach Luke Walton knows the pressure to succeed has increased tenfold, and that there's going to be a new degree of drama surrounding his squad. Nonetheless, he's ready to face the challenges head-on after going through a similar song and dance during his rookie year with the Lakers when Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined forces with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
"It's gonna be completely nuts, but it's also gonna be awesome," Walton told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "The whole city's gonna be behind us. We're gonna be on SportsCenter every night. If we lose, it's gonna be the end of the world. If we win, it's gonna be wild. But no matter what, it's gonna be fun."
Walton also recalled the day he was informed of James' decision to head to Hollywood, and how he spent roughly eight-and-a-half hours on the telephone after the news broke, which took him away from his Sunday family barbecue.
He chatted with his father, Bill, with Bryant, and even with Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, who helped guide James to two titles in South Beach.
"He (Spoelstra) said, 'First of all, you're getting a different LeBron,'" Walton said. '"We (the Heat) got him eight years ago when he hadn't won a championship.' But he's like, 'Dude, he works extremely hard. He's so knowledgeable about the game. You gotta always be honest and prepared and ready to work hard. As long as you do those things, the relationship should be fine.'"
James has appeared in each of the last eight Finals as part of the Eastern Conference representative, while the Lakers haven't even qualified for the postseason since 2013.