The thing about tribute videos is that the NBA players they honor are rarely able to see them live. They are played on the scoreboard, often during a timeout but still in the middle of a game and usually when the coach is drawing up a play.
But for Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma in his return to Los Angeles on Friday night, it was the gesture that counted most. It reminded him of the four years he had with the Lakers, which included a championship in 2020.
Those four years left an impact on him personally that will last a lifetime.
"It means I've got a legacy here at the end of the day. This is the team that drafted me. I spent four years here. Laker Nation and being a Laker is forever in my heart. We won a championship here. We did a lot of great things," he said.
Kuzma, 26 and now living in Washington, refers to L.A. as his home. He has found a great opportunity with the Wizards in basketball terms, now with a larger role as a scorer and leader. But the formative years he spent with the Lakers will always help define him.
Not only did he win a ring there, he learned from all-time greats like LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant. And he also developed a Q-rating that transcends sports.
"I established myself [in L.A.] and it's really, really cool. I'm just a kid from Flint, Michigan at the end of the day. I always think about that, being from a small town coming to L.A. and just making some noise. That's the American dream, honestly, for me," Kuzma said.
Kuzma had 20 points and seven rebounds in his return vs. the Lakers. The Wizards lost, however, and mainly because James went off for 50 points.
Kuzma left the Lakers this past offseason when he was traded to Washington in a deal that sent Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles. Kuzma has since thrived with the Wizards this season, leading the team in total points and rebounds.
The Wizards appear to be ready to build around Kuzma, Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis moving forward. Kuzma is under contract through at least next season with a player option the following year.
With how well he's playing, Kuzma seems set to stick around in Washington for a while. But, as Friday night showed, he will always be welcomed back whenever his team plays at the Lakers.