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June 16, 2008
Los Angeles has long had a reputation of not having the best fans. I've been living in LA for four years now and let me tell you, it's definitely true. Fans show up two innings into Dodgers games, halfway into the first period of Kings games, and in the 2nd quarter of Lakers regular season games (don't get me started on the bandwagon fans of the Galaxy post-Beckham). I think there are many reasons for this. Los Angeles is so spread out it can be difficult to get to a sporting event on time, there's no good public transportation to get people to the events, and there's the laid back west coast attitude. But, a lot of the negative perception of LA fans come from the rich & famous. There's the obligatory montage of star sightings at every Laker home game and there's a perception that these people are simply there to be seen and don't care about the game. This is true for many, but there are some fans that really do get into the game (besides Jack Nicholson).
Last night in the second quarter, Phil Jackson inexplicably put Chris Mihm into the game. Mihm had played in just 23 games this season and just 25 minutes in the final 55 regular season games. He hadn't played a single minute in the post-season, yet there he was, playing in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Mihm on the court. Sure, Phil Jackson has won 9 Championships, but this was insane (not to mention you can begin to question a coach that blows a 24-point lead).
Well, I wasn't the only one to think that. After Mihm air-balled a hook shot, Denzel Washington stood up, looked towards the Lakers' bench and yelled out, "Phil!" Thank you Denzel. Thank you for doing what all Lakers' fans wanted to but most couldn't afford to do (although most would have added something like 'What the hell are you thinking?' And, 'Hillary, why are you going out with that guy?'). Not all celebrities are 'too cool' to cheer for their team.
(It also should be noted that the Staples Center gets as loud as just about any NBA Arena come playoff time - save the Warriors' Oracle Arena).