Written by: Jeff Lambert
It’s no secret that the spectacle surrounding a Lakers game is usually bigger than the basketball contest itself. The celebrities, the atmosphere, the Magic…it’s all part of the show. Very few arenas compete with the majesty of the Staples Center during a Lakers game, including the very same building when the Clippers play host.
Have you ever actually been to a Clippers game? It’s like the Staples Center immediately regresses into a Christmas tree without any ornaments, as if the Glory of Christmas is replaced with a bare, evergreen, coniferous tree. It’s just not the same without the purple and gold, which is why Lakers tickets are the hardest ticket to come by in this town. Lakers games are a Broadway Show, World Series game, and James Cameron movie premiere rolled into one. People are there to see and be seen. While that is all part of the Lakers mystique, it’s also a part of the problem.
During the 2008 NBA Finals (which I have done my best to block from my memory), ESPN writer Bill Simmons had this assessment of the Staples Center crowd:
“A run-of-the-mill [Lakers versus] Grizzlies game is louder than a Finals game [at Staples Center] because there would be more real Lakers fans … For instance … [the] crowd of power players, millionaires, industry frauds, celebrities and trophy girlfriends … remained seated [during some of the most dramatic moments of the NBA Finals]. [There was] a staggering amount of pseudo-fans … who just came because they wanted to flex their power muscles… Only in the last eight minutes of the fourth quarter did everyone start standing, cheering and resembling a basketball crowd.”
As much as it sickens me to admit it, he is absolutely 100% accurate. I couldn’t have put it better myself. It’s a sad day in Lakers history when real fans get boxed out of the most important games of the season, but maybe that’s to be expected in LA. With corporations taking up a solid chunk of season seats, the big game tickets are usually given away as “business perks” to people who could care less about who actually wins. On any given night, the pseudo-fans filling Staples Center are more concerned with seeing Jack Nicholson than Kobe Bryant.
Is that a gross generalization? Sort of, but if we were to take away the seats from every corporate account holder and give them to a legion of deserving Lakers fans, would the Lakers have a considerably better home court advantage? Of course they would! But alas, such is life.
So why did I just spend 1,000 words complaining about Lakers fans? Well (dramatic pause), because I’m about to give you, the real fan,