Born in Long Beach, CA, Jason Kapono has always had an eye for the Lakers. After all, when you’re growing up at the same time that Magic, Kareem and Showtime are winning titles, it’s hard not to. That’s why, when Kapono signed with the Lakers last week for a one year-$1.2 million deal, he was more than ecstatic that he’d finally found his way back to Los Angeles:
It feels great to be here. And like I said, it feels fake. I feel like I just bought this jersey at the store. I’ve always wanted to play here as a hometown kid growing up as a fan of Magic and Kareem and James Worthy. It’s a dream come true, but I’m excited for the chance to play and to put on the purple and gold.”
Kapono, 30, comes to the Lakers with the sixth highest career three-point field goal percentage in NBA history. Having played his college ball at UCLA, where he led the Bruins in scoring in each of his four years, Kapono became a three-point specialist in the NBA, winning back-to-back Three-Point Shootouts in 2007 and 2008. Kapono’s goal for the season? Shooting 50% not from the field, but behind the arc:
Yeah, its a goal of mine always. I’m a shooter. I think I’m one of the best so I aspire to be the best and to shoot the best. If I can shoot 50/50, I’ll take it.”
So playing with a roster loaded with forwards (with Walton, World Peace, Barnes, and Caracter), what exactly does Kapono plan to bring to a team that already has scorers at nearly every position?
I’m a shooter through and through so that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’ve had a job here coming up on nine years [in the league]. It’s because I can make shots, so as long as I can make shots and I can spread the floor for these guys to play I think it will help us out.”
For Kapono, coming to the Lakers is more than just a homecoming; it’s a déjà vu of sorts. With former UCLA teammate Matt Barnes and Kapono splitting time, Kapono will also be coached by Lakers assistant Quin Snyder, who with Missouri coached against Kapono and Barnes’ Bruins in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Laker fans who watched Peja Stojakovich tear up the Lakers with outside shooting last spring will surely welcome the addition of a three-point threat that can provide the Lakers with much-needed points from behind the arc.