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

You’d should look intently otherwise you’d miss the selfmade signal nailed to a phone pole outdoors the Lakers’ apply facility in El Segundo, Calif.

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


The signal provides no indication of who “I” is perhaps, who “you” are or what sort of greatness you possess. But in a small but significant manner, the message has impressed Lakers Coach Darvin Ham as he leads the staff in their Western Conference semifinal collection towards 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 outstanding athletes and entertainers.

“It’s not only a slogan he is making an attempt to get picked up by some company sponsor or one thing,” Ham mentioned. “It’s one thing he really believes in. I find it irresistible.”

Neither wealthy nor extensively 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 outdoors 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 mentioned. “So that is one thing that God advised me to do, you recognize?”

Burney first held up the same signal 15 years in the past on a road nook in Highland Park, Mich., a small metropolis surrounded by his hometown, Detroit. He mentioned 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,” mentioned 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 all over the place. He’s all over the place. You may 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 making 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 taking part in for the Pistons, sitting at the bar of a TGI Friday’s. .

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

Wallace received 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 turn out to be shut over the years by means of NBA circles. Early this season, Wallace deliberate to go to Ham’s house. He requested if Burney may be part of.

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

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

Ham trusted his studying on Burney, so 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 taking place.

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

The Lakers had been 6 factors better 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 common — you want good vibes, good power, individuals who imagine in you,” Ham mentioned. “And he represents that.”

The signal outdoors the Lakers’ apply 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 collection towards 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 huge 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 collection.

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

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

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