When it comes to sports, I’m a San Diegan, which means I am a Lakers fan.
Yes, the Clippers were there our first few years in North County and had players like Bill Walton and Terry Cummings. But the Lakers were omnipresent and the Clippers would, after years of futility, move north to the L.A. Sports Arena for decades more of the same. Meanwhile, the Lakers were Showtime and Showtime was the NBA. Pipe down Boston fans. In fact, my fondest memory of the Clippers’ San Diego era was going to a pre-season game with the Lakers and meeting Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
For this, I have always given thanks.
The Lakers brought my family back to L.A. in 1985 for a first round playoff game against the Phoenix Suns. My parents bought tickets for the family to celebrate my brother’s 18th birthday. He was, possibly, a bigger Lakers fan than me. It was the most L.A. moment of my life to that point.
We sat in the bleeds above the scoreboard and screamed ourselves hoarse as they pounded the Niños the entire game, winning by almost 30 and scoring 142 points. It was so bad Pat Riley played Chuck Nevitt, the 7’5” death stick Jerry Buss met and signed in a shoe store while the guy measured his foot, or so the myth goes. Even basketball players were coming to Hollywood for their big break.
And in actual Hollywood fashion, the guy missed one shot and two free throws, but exited a hero and rode the bench all the way to a championship a few weeks later. The guy who played the equivalent of 18 games over nine years for five teams gets a ring as the oversized hood ornament on the Lakers’ Camaro Z28?
That’s a better plot than Pretty Woman.