Wait! What? The thousands of faithful fans!?
You mean the thousands of people that didn't get into that premier party up in the hills? This is Los Angeles, gang! Unless it is T, Cube or Vanilla (only at weddings) we want nothing to do with ice! But, Los Angeles still has some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in sport! Right?
Wrong! In a city where the velvet ropes and red carpets dictate what a person does, will do, and wants to do every night of the week, it is difficult to shout with integrity, "We are true fans of our sports...we are Los Angeles!"
Five years ago, outside the Regent-Beverly-Wilshire Hotel (Yes, that one) I listened to a lady tell me her Lakers game experience from the previous night. She rattled off the thrilling limo ride to Staples Center, the Champagne drinking and a who's-who list, enough to kill a mid-evil scribe, naming the celebs she saw that night. She had so much to say, with so much detail, that it took me a few minutes to realize the most important aspect of the night was missing, so I asked, "Who did you see the Lakers play?" She paused for a second, caught her breath and said, " Oh, I have no idea. We were looking around the whole time and taking pictures...they were playing a blue team." And, scene!
The stereotypical gripe and backlash from calling out the fan-ship of a town can be risky, and the arguments and put-up-your-dukes mentality, well deserved. Regardless, scripted or not, the focal point of Tinsel Town as a sports mecca is not convincing, and basketball is not the only debate. Baseball, Hockey, or the hopeful, future-NFL transplant also have the pleasure of being picked last in the game of strong fan base.
For example; The Los Angeles Dodgers are having a spectacular season and look to be getting back to past form, resembling teams of the late 80"s with good pitching and solid hitting, bolstered by Kemp and, newly contract-extended, Andre Ethier. This is news you would expect to see scattered on the Web, ESPN and Fox, yet, the only news keeping the Dodgers relevant in the sporting world comes courtesy of the goofballs that beat up Bryan Stow in the parking lot.
Rivalries make the game better, like the Giants and Dodgers, and the fans of each will always jabber and taunt who's cheeseburger is better. But , verbal jabber and the occasional drunk-push and push- back is one thing, the idea of beating a man to near death is another. This is not pride for your team, or pride of the game at all. It's English drunk "olde" out of a paper bag, not spoken.
Does Los Angeles have a strong fan base for their sports teams? Perhaps. But, it is hard to categorize the level. There are true fans that understand the game and what historical implications, like the Stanley Cup victory mean, but three is not an army, and Bill Plaschke can't be your General. It is not surprising to see people walking around the streets of Hollywood today with Kings jerseys on, and, It is also not surprising to see the tag still hanging on the bottom of the jersey. Trend set, trend followed. It will be years, if ever, before this city and its' fans can be compared to the Pittsburgh's, Chicago's, Philadelphia's or Dallas's of the sports realm. Or, the current trend of success may jump-start a more profound base of people that enjoy and truly understand what it means to be a "fan of the game." Let the debate begin.
The Achilles heal - It will always be a town of " What is that scarf Angelina has on, or, what scarf is Ashton wearing?" "Is it ok for a dude to wear a scarf ?" "Why the hell are they all wearing scarfs indoors, with hats and sunglasses?" "Let's get to the mall, stat!" Who you know or who you saw is worth the ticket admission, not the game or the outcomes.
History is a channel the d-list auditions for out here, not an outcome a franchise creates.