Anti-Lakers Sentiment Rampant Through NBA Fans
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
The Orlando Magic won their first game of the NBA Finals last night. The Magic made a finals record 62.5 percent of their shots and beat the Los Angeles Lakers 108-104. The win narrowed L.A.'s lead in the series to two games to one. And that's good news for NBA fans who hate the Lakers. NPR's Tom Goldman is here with more on the anti-Lakers phenomenon.
TOM GOLDMAN: Over the past week, I've gotten two emails from friends, unsolicited. One thanking me in advance for doing a story on hating the L.A. Lakers, which that person does - the other one sent while I was in L.A. covering the finals, saying hope the series is going ok. God, I hate most everything about the Lakers. And then the friend wrote a naughty word.
Being in Los Angeles, it seemed like the perfect place to explore the well of animosity, not just in my inbox, but throughout NBA Nation, where Beat L.A. is a common war cry. Sure, I was in Lakers territory, but in a city that big, I figured I could find someone who could explain the phenomenon in a calm, nuanced way.
Mr. STEVE PERRIN (Blogger): I taught my daughter to say Kobe's a punk when she was two.
GOLDMAN: Okay. So Steve Perrin wasn't that someone. Perrin blogs about L.A.'s other NBA team the Clippers, so his anti-Kobe Bryant, anti-Lakers sentiment could be explained that way.
Needing a little more detachment for my Lakers hatred investigation, I turned to another blogger. Henry Abbott writes the TrueHoop blog on ESPN.com. He says the loathing has to do with economics. Like the Yankees of baseball, the Lakers have tons of money and can spend it to buy the most expensive free agents. He says it also has to do with style, which Abbott traces back to the show time Lakers of the 1980s led by Magic Johnson.
Mr. HENRY ABBOTT (TrueHoop Blog): They just sort of have this determination to be a showy team, you know, to be like the entertainment team.
GOLDMAN: Now, full disclosure: Abbott has been criticized by Lakers fans for being a hater. They say his self-professed love for L.A.'s western conference rival Portland Trailblazers prevents him from being objective. Abbott insists he's a journalist first.
Although during last year's NBA Finals, Abbott couldn't help thinking the stereotype of some Lakers fans was true. The Lakers had just lost a home game to Boston, and Abbott found himself in a VIP elevator at Staples Center.
Mr. ABBOTT: Everybody was in a good mood, like, after this big loss. There was this guy who was just like, no. And I was like why aren't you guys upset? Like what's the problem? And he's like no - and he's holding a drink in his hand, like a cocktail. He's like, no, win or lose, we booze.
(Soundbite of song, "I love L.A.")
Mr. RANDY NEWMAN (Singer, Songwriter, Composer): (Singing) I love L.A.
Unidentified Group: We love it.
Mr. NEWMAN: (Singing) I love L.A.
Unidentified Woman #1: Denzel Washington arrived on a subway-themed red carpet at "The Taking Pelham 1 2 3" premiere super early, and then headed to the star-studded Lakers game.
GOLDMAN: The celebrity watch at Lakers games drives the haters crazy. It's everywhere on TV.
Unidentified Woman #2: Kanye West, Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo on a date and, of course, die-hards Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson.
GOLDMAN: Surely, the perception of flighty fans and thus a flighty team would be a lot different if the cameras showed people like 55-year-old Los Angeles native Edward Chavez. He was carrying a pro-Lakers placard outside Staples Center before game two.
Mr. EDWARD CHAVEZ: In my life, sir, there's always been four loves. There's been God in my life, my wife, my baby and then Lakers. I love the Lakers. When I see the Lakers, it just gets butterflies down my neck. It's also, spiritually, I feel I got the Laker drive, which means I'm energetic to keep on going.
GOLDMAN: Despite the true-blue fans, despite the Lakers players who Henry Abbott of TrueHoop calls some of the friendliest, best guys in the NBA, the haters will keep hating, and for the moment, loving every Orlando win.
Tom Goldman, NPR News.
MONTAGNE: And you are listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
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