He Saw ‘Greatness’ in the Lakers When They Were at Their Worst

You’d need to look carefully otherwise you’d miss the selfmade signal nailed to a phone pole exterior the Lakers’ observe facility in El Segundo, Calif.

It’s proper exterior the entrance to the gamers’ parking zone, however a lot of them miss its blue-and-yellow phrases as they drive in.


The signal offers no indication of who “I” could be, who “you” are or what sort of greatness you possess. But in a small but significant approach, the message has impressed Lakers Coach Darvin Ham as he leads the group in their Western Conference semifinal sequence in opposition to the Golden State Warriors.

Ham has even cast an unlikely friendship with the man who posted the signal: Terrance Burney, a basketball-loving airline worker whose house is full of inspirational indicators. Burney’s unceasing positivity has charmed distinguished athletes and entertainers.

“It’s not only a slogan he is attempting to get picked up by some company sponsor or one thing,” Ham stated. “It’s one thing he really believes in. I like it.”

Neither wealthy nor broadly identified, Burney, 40, works for Delta Air Lines and lives in Los Angeles together with his German shepherd, Ziva, and his girlfriend, Crystal Lewis.

He stands exterior of Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles after most Lakers house video games holding a home made signal bearing his message, hoping that whoever sees it feels happier, lighter or perhaps even newly assured.

“When I inform individuals, ‘I see greatness in you,’ it means, ‘I see God in you,’” Burney stated. “So that is one thing that God informed me to do, you recognize?”

Burney first held up an identical signal 15 years in the past on a road nook in Highland Park, Mich., a small metropolis surrounded by his hometown, Detroit. He stated prayer led him to do it.

In the years since, he has taken his signal throughout the world, flying without cost as an airline worker. He has shared his message on road corners and through protest marches, in small gyms and outdoors skilled arenas. He has shouted it as a contestant on “The Price Is Right.”

“He’s like the Forrest Gump 2.0,” stated Morris Peterson, a former NBA participant who grew shut with Burney after a charity occasion Peterson hosted with the rapper Snoop Dogg to assist individuals affected by the water disaster in Flint, Mich. “He’s simply in all places. He’s in all places. You would possibly see him in Paris with the signal.”

Burney performed basketball for one 12 months at Prairie View A&M University, and in the years after he’d typically get requested to take part in pickup video games and exercises. In 2007, he was getting ready for a exercise with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, then the G League affiliate of the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons, when he noticed Rasheed Wallace, then enjoying for the Pistons, sitting at the bar of a TGI Friday’s. .

“Excuse me, sir, your turnaround leap shot is the greatest in the historical past of a turnaround leap shot,” Burney recalled telling Wallace. “How do you get it over people who find themselves taller than you?”

Wallace bought up from his seat and demonstrated his methodology. The two of them drank a couple of beers collectively and a friendship started.

Wallace and Ham, the Lakers’ coach, had change into shut over the years by means of NBA circles. Early this season, Wallace deliberate to go to Ham’s house. He requested if Burney might be part of.

The Lakers began the season 2-10. Ham was struggling to make the most of the group’s two greatest gamers, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Not many individuals would have used “greatness” to explain something occurring with the Lakers. But Burney did.

“He stated: ‘Don’t fear, coach. You’re going to be nice. We’re going to be nice. I see greatness in you,’” Ham stated.

Ham trusted his studying on Burney, in order that they stayed in contact. Burney despatched textual content messages to Ham to encourage him. The Lakers’ fortunes started to vary, which doubtless had extra to do with their dramatic makeover at the commerce deadline than with Burney’s signal. But he believes one thing larger was occurring.

Before Game 4 of the Lakers’ first-round playoff sequence in opposition to the Memphis Grizzlies, Burney despatched a textual content to Ham that learn: “Your PEACE offers PEACE to others!! I SEE GREATNESS IN YOU!!”

The Lakers had been 6 factors larger than the Grizzlies that day.

“Everyone needs to be considered in a optimistic mild and have — not simply in basketball, NBA basketball, in life in basic — you want good vibes, good power, individuals who consider in you,” Ham stated. “And he represents that.”

The signal exterior the Lakers’ observe facility has been there for weeks. Davis noticed it for the first time on May 1, simply earlier than the Lakers left Los Angeles for his or her sequence in opposition to Golden State in San Francisco.

He assumed a fan had left it there and gave it little thought.

The subsequent day, Davis scored 30 factors with 23 rebounds, becoming a member of solely 4 different large males in Lakers historical past with at least 30 factors and 20 rebounds in a playoff recreation. His efficiency helped the Lakers beat the Warriors in Game 1 of their sequence.

“Sooooo he noticed the signal earlier than he had a RECORD setting win??” Burney stated in a textual content message.

He couldn’t be satisfied that it was a coincidence.

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