Austin Reaves’ star is steadily rising as a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers – for several reasons.


LeBron James, Austin Reaves and the Lakers took the train to New York.

LeBron James, Austin Reaves and the Lakers took the train to New York.
Image: Lakers/Twitter

Austin Reaves’ star is steadily rising as a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers – for several reasons.

In mid-December he buried a game winner on his way to give the Lakers a win against the Dallas Mavericks on national television. In their 106-96 win against the Brooklyn Nets, he became a meme. LeBron James was explaining something to the rookie they call “Hillbilly Kobe,” and the look on Reaves’ face expressed something between confused and shocked. The internet had very nice with that photo, including James. He posted the photo to his Instagram page along with another photo and a quote from a conversation between Peter Parker and Tony Stark from Spiderman: Homecoming.

Reaves has found himself in another interesting photo.

The Los Angeles Lakers decided to see a little bit of America on their annual Grammy road trip — which isn’t even this year, because the event delayed to April and moved to Las Vegas due to concerns about the recent COVID surge. Instead of boarding the charter to Philadelphia for their next game against the 76ers, they chose the scenic route and decided to take the Amtrak.

It’s not a terrible idea. Why take off, land and change air pressure on a short flight from New York to Philadelphia when you could just hop on a train for an hour instead? In a season of 82 games, it’s nice to change pace every now and then. Sure, taking a charter plane up the East Coast for a few weeks isn’t the worst way to travel on an extended business trip, but a well-timed break from the routine is always nice. That must also have been an interesting sight when a few dizzy passengers at 30th St. Station saw the Lakers on the platform.

The Lakers posted photos of their journey on social media, and in the lower right image Reaves is standing, except getting off the coachclass train.

I understand a bit of socially acceptable rookie hazing, because in a civilized society where we don’t have to stick people to goal posts and basketball hoops, but coach class? As funny as the thought of a stranger falling asleep on his shoulder, the man has a nickname, a buzzer knocker, and a viral meme. He certainly deserves business class. Or… maybe that’s just the door he chose to walk out of, or maybe the Lakers rented a whole train — LeBron could certainly afford that.

Of course, James had signed on to this idea, and perhaps his first subway trip with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 left him open to trying new things. The team chose to bypass traffic by taking the subway instead of the bus from shootaround to their hotel the morning before a game against the New York Knicks. It made for a memorable, unique moment in New York City, when James tried to videotape a passenger and that man, probably on his way to work, wanted nothing to do with James’ pranks.

Perhaps this relaxed Amtrak ride is one of those season-turning Lakers team bonding moments. The Lakers are 2-1 on this trip so far and Davis returned to the lineup on Tuesday. They could run here, and maybe after a few playoffs in the spring, James will tell the story at a press conference about how the time the team spent traveling as simple Americans brought them closer together.

And the next time Reaves does something that requires him to talk to the media after the game, someone should ask him: What section were you in on that Amtrak.

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