Sabreena Merchant is the new editor-in-chief at Silver Screen and Roll

There’s a story everyone in my family loves to share about my dad and the 1989 NBA Finals.

He had placed a bet on the Lakers to win the series, and who could blame him after they’d swept through the playoffs to that point? Of course, things did n’t go according to plan, and as my dad was visiting his friend to pay up, he got a jaywalking ticket.

The way my dad tells it, it wasn’t his fault. Byron Scott got hurt, and then Magic got hurt. Someone covered Pat Riley’s mouth at the parade the previous year before he could promise a three-peat. (The jaywalking? That was probably his fault).

Six siblings lived in California, some for decades, and my dad was the only one to ever get a jaywalking ticket. And all because of the Lakers, the reason he’d grown to love California in the first place. My dad immigrated to the United States in 1980, and the Showtime Lakers were his entry point to feeling like an American. Magic, Kareem, Riley, Jerry West — that was his personal Mt. rushmore

And when he had kids, he made sure that we felt exactly the same way. The Lakers are a family business, and they became our family’s business. The purple and gold pajamas passed down from my brother to me, the Lakers exception to our daily TV restriction, the fact that we couldn’t bring in the newspaper the day after a loss — for better or worse, I grew up with Chick Hearn putting the game in the refrigerator as my lullaby.

So it all felt a little surreal when I ended up here as a contributor, surrounded by people as nutty about the Lakers as me.

Back when I was just dipping my toes into the world of sports writing in 2014, this was the first outlet I wrote for, even if all I could muster at first were some roundtables and game recaps. Eventually, I felt emboldened to trot out some actual Takes, with a capital T, like maybe hiring Luke Walton isn’t the slam dunk everyone thinks it is, but also, Bismack Biyombo? Throw all the money at him!

And when I decided I wanted to try this gig professionally, SS&R was the first place to actually pay me to write. It was a dream come true, truly, for a lifelong Laker fan to cash a check every month for comparing Dwight Howard to Voldemort, among other things.

It’s been anything but a linear path as I’ve worked to make sportswriting a career, but through it all, I’ve remained tethered to this site. I kept my weekly column here as long as I could, I got to pitch in extra during the 2020 playoff run when the other teams I covered were already eliminated, and “I Love Basketball” — an ode to Metta World Peace and the Baby Lakers — has lived on our podcast feed since 2019.

The Lakers are my team, and SS&R is my home.

So forgive me for indulging in a little re-introduction today, as I return here full-time as the new Editor-in-Chief at Silver Screen and Roll. This site is already the best place on the internet to talk about the Lakers, and I’m thrilled to continue that legacy left by Harrison Faigen, Drew Garrison, Christian Rivas, and so many others. That means the same cadence of content you all have come to expect with a little twist. It is a new year, after all.

Rest assured, I don’t plan on forgetting about the Sparks. I love all things purple and gold, and we’ll be keeping tabs on them throughout the WNBA offseason and all the way into what hopefully is a bounce-back year in 2023.

For now, it’s the dawn of another NBA season, and another chance at Larry OB no. 18. Regardless of the concerns we all have about this Lakers team, it’s a much more exciting time than when I first came aboard with Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Price. I’m so proud of the group we have assembled at this site and the community that supports us along the way. Whatever happens with the Lakers, I’m ready to step into this new era with the confidence of Pat Riley at a parade podium. Great things are yet to come.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Sabreena on Twitter at @sabreenajm.

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