In a little gym in the desert last weekend, before a crowd of dozens, the Lakers trotted out a revival of their old hit, Showtime.
Mike Dunleavy, director of last season's replacement, Slowtime, said he enjoyed this oldie but goodie, Son of Showtime.
He wouldn't have minded seeing it a year ago, either.
"We didn't have anybody who could run," Dunleavy said. "I don't think the guys came to camp in shape last year. Me being in my first year, I didn't know any better."
As a first-year coach, Dunleavy emphasized half-court offense in camp, feeling that was the Laker weakness. But he never intended to become the man who dropped the curtain on Showtime.
"They had been a running team," Dunleavy said. "I thought I'd just do the same things they had been doing.
"I had studied their practices. I knew exactly what they had done. That's what I tried to do--if it's not broke, don't fix it. It didn't work.
"And the X-factor, they had been off since the first week of May (after being ousted from the playoffs by Phoenix), rather than the third week of June. I think the guys probably got a little bit more out of shape."
Dunleavy was surprised to see the Lakers start the season walking. But in the throes of a 1-4 start, he had more pressing concerns, such as finding a starting lineup and straightening out his new defense.
Magic Johnson, master of the fast break, was trying to smooth out the transition from Pat Riley. Without a quality backup, Johnson played extra minutes, undercutting his ability to push the pace.
Dunleavy later tried to re-ignite the fast break, with mixed success. The Lakers became the NBA's No. 2 defensive team, but their offensive average dropped to 106, their worst in their 30 years in Los Angeles.
By the playoffs, they were enjoying great success in waltz time, as in Game 1 of the finals when they put the Bulls to sleep. They walked it up and sent Johnson, James Worthy or Sam Perkins into the post. When the defense double-teamed, they threw the ball out for an open jumper.
They kept an iron grip on the tempo, but the unthinkable happened--the Lakers were criticized as boring.
Fast-break drills now take up the last 30 minutes of his morning practice. On his first day, newly acquired Sedale Threatt doubled over, trying to keep up.
The pace in Saturday's scrimmage was fast. The Lakers felt as if they were home again.
"I missed it," Byron Scott said. "I think everybody on a running team that's not running misses it. I'd been on running teams basically since elementary school.
"I think running does a lot for us. We're not as predictable. I think we were last year. We were very methodical, throwing the ball into the post. Running makes us more dangerous. Magic and James don't get as beat up in the post."
The Lakers acquired Threatt and are hoping Tony Smith keeps improving. Both are strong defenders who can press.
"Two things," Dunleavy says. "You have to defend and rebound. We weren't a real good steals team last year, but we've added a little bit more of that, I think.
"The other thing is conditioning and the bench. If the guys are in condition and the guys who are coming in can keep the pressure on other people, we'll be able to run."
Has he talked more about running this year?
"No," Dunleavy said, smiling. "We've just been doing a lot of running."
These days, when tongues hang out, the owners don't complain. They are rehearsing to be Lakers again.