Lakers re-creating home feel in Orlando NBA bubble

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers will host a "home" game Wednesday more than 2,500 miles from L.A., but people in the building who close their eyes and open their ears before tipoff might mistake their surroundings for Staples Center.

"And now, celebrating their 60th year in Southern California, 72nd year in the NBA, the franchise with 23 Pacific Division titles, 31 Western Conference titles and 16 NBA titles, your Los Angeles Lakers," the voice of Lakers public address announcer Lawrence Tanter echoed in The Arena at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex before the Lakers' first seeding game in the bubble last week.

Tanter, the Lakers' P.A. announcer since the 1981-82 season, recorded an array of introductions -- accounting for potential lineup permutations and team accomplishments -- at a home studio in the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles last month.

"I hope it gives them a little degree of home cookin', man," Tanter told ESPN in a phone interview from his home in Mid-City, Los Angeles. "I mean, we live in an era now where things are a lot different than they were 20 years ago with technology, etc. And the fact that I was able to do it and for them to transfer it and put it into a computer down there is pretty cool."

Tanter, 70, was approached by the Lakers' director of game entertainment, Matt Shelton, about the opportunity after the league canvassed the 22 teams invited to the bubble for their ideas about game night presentation.

"We said, 'Would we be allowed to have LT introduce our players?' Because nobody out there is going to be able to do it the same way that he does," Shelton said. "It's hard to re-create Staples Center when there's not people, there's not a big arena, there's not lighting, there's not lasers, there's not a Kabuki drop. None of that exists. The best way to re-create that was Lawrence Tanter's voice."

Shelton spliced together Tanter's tracks using Adobe Audition editing software. He will upload an alternate intro that Tanter prerecorded for Wednesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since Monday's win over the Utah Jazz clinched the No. 1 seed in the West for the Lakers, Tanter will now be heard touting L.A.'s updated 24 division titles in his smooth baritone voice.

Initial reviews suggest that the recreation of the Lakers' intro comes off like the real thing.

"Oh, we thought he was here," Lakers guard Danny Green told ESPN when asked about hearing Tanter's voice before the opener. "They did a great job."

There are three venues hosting NBA games in the Orlando bubble, and the NBA hired four P.A. announcers to work them in person: Olivier Sedra (Brooklyn Nets), Kyle Speller (Denver Nuggets), Eric Smith (LA Clippers) and Tim Sinclair (Indiana Pacers).

Sedra, who was LeBron James' P.A. announcer during James' second stint in Cleveland and called the action in the Lakers' opener, gladly backed away from the microphone for Tanter.

"Legend, man. Legend for sure," Sedra said. "So you're asking me to talk about this guy, just that in itself, that's rocking my world, if you can imagine. What this man has done and the clout that we all think he has, he's just the voice of the Los Angeles Lakers. That's, wow.

"Look at all the different sports and how he approaches his craft. He hasn't changed for anyone or anything. He is just classic and the sound of a brand. I would like to think that every P.A. announcer would want to have that reputation, one that Lawrence has."

Tanter acknowledged the parallel between the Lakers using his voice in Orlando with the New York Yankees playing a recording of Bob Sheppard's iconic plate appearance introduction for Derek Jeter after Sheppard had died.

"He had been a member of the Yankee organization for how many decades? My goodness," Tanter said. "So, I guess we're in unchartered territory in more levels than we can imagine right now. So, consequently, when the opportunity came up, I didn't hesitate to do it, man. Because ... there wouldn't be anything I wouldn't do for the Lakers, man."

Tanter has also worked as a longtime radio DJ on jazz stations in L.A. but said his days have felt "empty" since the NBA went on hiatus in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's been kind of empty because I was looking forward to not only the conclusion to the year but the playoffs, man. This is an opportunity to get No. 17 and tie us with the Celtics, man," he said, referring to the Lakers' championship count. "I'm glad that they're able to reconvene. ... I think it will be kind of therapeutic to get some hoops in."

As long as the Lakers advance in the postseason, Tanter will be a part of the game presentation.

"I was really honored to do it," he said. "Even though I'm not there in person, I'm there in spirit and the whole Laker Nation is there in spirit."

He's there in voice, too.

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