Lakers in London as travel alert issued on possible terrorism; Walton injured at practice
And then came a measure of reality. ... The Lakers were three days into a breezy eight-day swing through Europe when they received news of an upcoming travel alert, issued by the U.S. State Department on Sunday morning, urging American citizens in Europe to be vigilant, especially in public places such as tourist sites and transportation hubs.
A travel alert is considered to be relatively short-term and less serious than a travel warning.
The Lakers play exhibition games Monday in London against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Thursday in Spain against FC Barcelona.
The alert was issued in response to intelligence about a possible Al Qaeda plan to send teams of gunmen into crowded European places to harm Western civilians, similar to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, according to a BBC News report.
Possible retaliation for a recent burka ban in France was another factor in the alert, an anonymous security source told CNN. The French Senate recently approved a law that banned burka and other face-covering veils worn by some Muslim women.
NBA security officials briefed the team before Sunday's practice.
"NBA security is staying in touch with the U.S. Embassy, the FBI and Scotland Yard and keeping us updated on the situation,” Lakers spokesman John Black said.
Although the Lakers took note of the terrorism advisory, they didn’t want to change their whole approach in England because of a non-specific threat.
“If a country invites you ... you stay in their country,” forward Ron Artest said.
Pau Gasol, a Spanish citizen, said: “I don’t perceive any threat. ... I was out all day yesterday and I’ll try to be out all day today. You’ve got to continue life as it is.”
Walton injured again
Lakers forward Luke Walton will be out at least two weeks after aggravating a right hamstring injury that is now being called a moderate strain. He said he felt a “little pop” while running sprints before Sunday’s practice.
He will not play in the Lakers’ first two exhibition games and will be reevaluated when the Lakers return home.
“I finally get my back feeling good, and now this happens,” he said.
Walton was sidelined most of last season because of persistent back problems.
-- Mike Bresnahan in London