In case you missed it while checking out the Armani ads, GQ (via The Basketball Jones) went looking for the worst fans in sports — congratulations Philadelphia! — and wouldn’t you know it only one NBA team was able to make this storied list:
The Los Angeles Lakers.
Congratulations, Angelenos! You are the fairest of America’s fair-weather fans! The Lakers unfaithful abandoned their team en masse when Magic retired in 1991, then reconfirmed their fickleness by sending local TV ratings plummeting 30 percent after Shaq departed in 2004. Meanwhile, in these championship days, the Staples Center is more bar scene than sports complex, where fans can’t be bothered to clap—their hands are too busy texting. “The focus is sometimes not on the court,” coach Phil Jackson has said. “It’s on the people in the crowd.” Which explains why eight box suites were recently combined into an offshoot of an abominable nightclub, the Hyde Lounge. After VIPs pass a clipboard gauntlet—at a sports stadium—they can eat $21 nachos at a crocodile-skin bar while waiting for the space to transform into a postbuzzer dance club. When it’s time to leave, a valet will even bring around their bandwagon.
GQ’s not wrong. They’re not totally right, either. And they took the easy way out with bashing the stars.
J.A. Adande has used this description before and it’s very apt — Los Angeles is like an iceberg. In People Magazine and on TMZ you see the 10 percent of the iceberg above water, the industry people who want to be seen. They’re dancing penguins on top of an iceberg (hey, that’s a great idea for a movie… oh, wait).
But the 90 percent you don’t see is just like every other city with mechanics and insurance salesmen and Thai restaurant cooks making up the majority of people. Well, L.A. has more Thai restaurant cooks than other cities, but you get the idea.
Lakers games are the same way — you see the texting stars courtside and hear about the Hyde lounge. But up above the luxury boxes in the 300 section are the real Lakers fans. People who do stick with the team when Shaq leaves town, where the Thai chefs who save their money to go to a couple games a year sit. There are plenty of real Lakers fans, you just don’t see them.
Now, many of those real Lakers fans have an unreal sense of entitlement and arrogance about their team, but that’s another issue all together.