Growing Up With The Lakers
My dad played basketball for most of his academic life. My father was always an outcast because in Veracruz, Mexico, (where he and I were born and raised) soccer was the dominant sport. Regardless, my dad kept on playing. During those first couple of years he began to fall in love with the Los Angeles Lakers. He idolized Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and because of the Lakers, he fell in love with the game even more. Once I was born (1987) he made sure that I had a baby Lakers shirt. For most of my adolescence my father dressed me in anything Lakers that he could find. My mother never minded much because my father’s love for the Lakers had been contagious and reeled her in.
In 1990 we made the move to sunny southern California. I have faint memories of my father sitting on the couch watching his Lakers play. Once I was old enough to play sports I immediately began playing basketball. I did not care about any other sports, I had become obsessed with basketball.
As the years went on, my love for the Lakers grew. Now I was watching games with my dad and learning all the players names and positions. My favorite player growing up was number 45, A.C. Green. In 1996, my father got home and put down his daily newspaper, I looked up the sports section, as usual, and read some heartbreaking news:
“Vlade Divac had been traded to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for, Lower Marion High School’s own, Kobe Bryant.”
To be honest, at first I was crushed because I loved Vlade, but little did I know what was to come in the near future.
In 2000, the post season was getting longer and longer. First was the Sacramento Kings (3-2), then the Phoenix Sun (4-1), and then the Portland Trailblazers (4-3). Before I knew it we had made it to the finals against Reggie Miller, who I idolized a lot, and his Indiana Pacers.
The night of game six will always be one of the best sports memories of my entire life. The Lakers had the lead and with the missed three-pointer by Reggie Miller, we had become the NBA champions! I jumped up off the couch and embraced my dad and cheered at the top of my lungs. After the excitement, we watched all the Lakers embrace their families and loved ones. I saw Shaq hug his dad and tears were just pouring from the big guy’s eyes. I felt like I was a part of something really special that night.
As the years past, my love for the Lakers, like their championships, began to grow. I began getting onto the internet and looking up game stats, highlights, player interviews, and anything I could that related to the Lakers. I fell in love with the organization; I couldn’t get enough.
Unfortunately, along with winning championships, comes those good old fans we call band wagon fans. I watched at home the day we lost to the Pistons in 2004 and even to the Celtics in 2008, and never once did I love my team any less. Most real Lakers fans see band wagon fans fall off whenever we lose a finals or start doing bad. TV ratings were at an all time low for the Lakers in 2005 and 2006. Once they began doing good again, everybody jumped back on the wagon, unfortunately. Being such a big team is unfortunate for them because their fans fluctuate depending on how good they are that season. Don’t worry Lakers, us real fans will always be there.
To this day whenever basketball season starts, I am there waiting to see how we are going to do that year.
Why do I like the Los Angeles Lakers so much? Because they are as much as part of my childhood as diapers and Gerber food. I grew up with them, and they have provided me with some of the best memories I have had to date. I was born to a Lakers fan, now I have become one, and I have no doubt that my kids will one day share the love I have for the Lakers as well.