Lakers blog profile: ZairaAmaterasu inspired by Kobe Bryant
This is the second post in a weekly series that helps you get to know members of the L.A. Times Lakers blog community. Feel free to send submissions to email@example.com
Screen name: ZairaAmaterasu
Real name: Zaira Scotti
Occupation: Biologist and Pharmacon researcher
Hometown: Lodi, Italy
Story behind your screen name: People consider me a goddess (how modest... I know... LOL) and I love Japan to pieces. So one of my former friends with benefits one day a few years ago just started to call me "Amaterasu" (Japanese goddess of Sun) and everybody in my crew simply followed in his footsteps. Being an ego-filled person, and totally vain, I happily accepted the trend.
How I became a Lakers fan: I have always been tall, and naturally since a very early age I got trapped following -- and practicing -- every sport related to height. I loved basketball since I was 3. Great Armani jeans fan. But being part of a traveling-the-world family, I got in contact with NBA pretty soon. Never fell under MJ's charm, and started to look out for a better jersey color. At age 6, I discovered the Purple & Gold jersey in one of my elder cousins' suitcase. He was coming back from an L.A. residency. It was love at first sight. It was a Magic Johnson jersey, and just around those days, Magic had revealed his tragic truth to the world. My cousin could barely hold his tears so I wanted to know the story of this man able to make him (a very strong man in my mind) cry. Don't think a girl of age 6 could be shocked about death and AIDS because I come from a family of doctors, and I started to read books about diseases and death and tragedies by 5. ... So the question wasn't out of the blue to any of my relatives (I have always been this over-curious baby anyway. ...). From his poetic rendition of Magic and the history of the Lakers blossomed my own love, like a wildfire touching golden dried bushes on a sunny hill, I became pretty much a lover to a town as well, because through the Lakers love, I learned also how to love Los Angeles and the whole state of California. By age 10, I was this strange, tall stick girl knowing every single thing about L.A. and the Staples Center even though, hilariously, my first touch-in with the town was due to the football (your "soccer" ) World Cup in 1994. My Lakers love grew year after year, through everything I could grasp onto. One of my most blessed meetings of passion. Ever.
Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-2010 season: I tend to change favorite memories depending on my mood. To me it's often about the intensity of a single action, and of a single mattering sport gesture. I tend to believe my favorite Lakers memory of all time has yet to come. And it must. Even though I have to admit the first time I stepped into Staples Center for a game must have a special place in my heart. ... Favorite memory of this past season, beside the parade, sure has to be the moment when I bought the tickets for the parade. I mean ... the tickets for the airplane that would have brought me in L.A. for a due parade. We were about to get trashed by the Celtics, behind them in games, and we were forced to win the remaining two face-offs, and I sure remember that the mood around wasn't the brightest or the most optimistic. And I was sure we would have won, so totally, instead. Never had a doubt (anybody who has been in the chats this season knows how much I was always saying we would have won the ring ...). Never ever feared a thing. So I paid thousands of dollars for airplane tickets, because I knew in the end I would have been witnessing a parade. It was like I could feel the destiny and like I could live into our players' heads and hearts for a moment. There I got assurances, and then I just had to be faithful. No big deal. Really. ;)
Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: Easy, Kobe's humiliation and that press conference. I still cry watching him in the dust every single day anybody recalls that to me. But I also learned, thanks to him (my total hero and inspiration) how from ashes a true phoenix revives stronger. And better. And more powerful. Experiences are what define a human, because in the way you deal with and through them, you show who you really are. Choices are what make you grow, both good and bad ones. Responsibility is what builds your ethic, when you accept all the consequences of what your actions imply. And your mistakes are a step you gotta take into your own perfectibility, if you have the force and the brain and the heart for riding even the wildest of rides, fearlessly. This did Kobe. This is what I try to do every day too. Sport is a school of life, and he's my best example to follow. Forever.
Favorite Lakers player: Need to ask? I rarely feel bonds and inspirations around like those Kobe inspires in me. Really ... when I say he's my hero I do say it because I find somebody to confront my own approach to life with in the way he manages to practice this sport. I have learned if you want to, there's no impossible you can't make possible. Everything is reachable through work, will, will, will, and an unbound, unescapable, inextinguible inner fire that tells you "get better every day." It's not pride, it's not arrogance, it's not pretentiousness. It's a way to make your life full and fulfill the gift you've been gifted along with. Do Your Best. Every Day More. This is the greatest lesson in life, and Kobe just [does] it so incredibly well. That's why he's my fav player and forever will be.
Greatest all-time Laker: So far, it still Magic. But everyone knows I do believe Kobe can take that crown.
Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: Sigh ... last year Finals game with the Magic. It has passed way too much time. :) At the Forum, well, as soon as we won, and I jumped on that famous plane to celebrate our Duplets, of course.
Opposing team, player you dislike the most: I really don't dislike teams. I mean, of course, Celtics to me are "the Green Enemies" and I feel the rivalry. I don't bend to hate. To me, it would be simply not be elegant. I don't say this because I am kind: I'm so proud of my Lakers faith, and I feel so much our greatness and glory that to "hate" other teams would somehow show me not reckoning how much splendid being a Lakers fan is. To put it simply, I'm so into the Lakers that I don't care about other teams. As for players, I really don't like air balloons. I don't like overrated PR machines. I don't like traitors. So in a nutshell, I can't stand Princess Jimmy and I deeply disrespect FatShaq. But I don't hate any of them. Again, just because they don't deserve such a huge feeling or sentiment. In the first place ;).
Interactions with Lakers players: Well, I have got the immense pleasure of meeting Kobe in Italy and England. ... Never really had the courage to try to ask him a thing in L.A. But just because it would feel like stalking, and I generally avoid bothering people I like and admire. I have always faith things will happen in my life that will bring me near to my idols, and so far it has happened so many times, I can only be grateful to a fair destiny. Anyway, my admiration for Kobe would make me say only stupid things in front of him in fan meetings or similar occasions, and I so totally hate to look stupid, I avoid that kind of stuff on principle, and fiercely. Those two chances were organized by friends involved in PR stuff, so both times I just briefly cheered him in Italian and got the memory of his answer and smile back like a treasure (surely he thought: "Another brainless blond doll"). It's enough for me to remember his smile and his calm, deep, awesome voice speaking in Italian back at me. It's like a treasure that I carry inside. But everyone knows I totally admire Kobe's head and intelligence so I would adore to get a chance to hear him speak about anything, knowing I could learn a lot from him. Of course that could never happen (also because, after all, the "stupid-me version of me" couldn't even attempt to verbalize a decent question at his stance ... *sigh* ...).
I met Pau Gasol when he was still a European player and saw from a 2-inch distance Magic. ... And I met Rick Fox.
My dream would be to speak with Kareem at least once ... well ... and Jerry West. And Phil Jackson. And I would love to talk to Derek Fisher. ... I am sure I would also adore to talk to Ron Ron. Oh, darn... I would love to talk to them all.
Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have: Don't laugh please. I have a towel from that last game I attended at Staples, the one against Orlando. I have been [assured] Kobe rolled in it at halftime. And I trust the person who landed that guarantee on me. I know ... it's creepy, but of course that towel has been framed. It's in my house private Spa space. It hangs on a wall, and below I have a motto that reads, "Every major victory comes from a full effort taken." And now go call the police ... because as I said, I know it's a creepy thing ... *sigh.*
Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: Everything about being a Lakers fan is memorable. From enjoying the thrill of a team that can be equally lazy and mind-blowing, from the memories of years of pain, turning into glorious shining dominance, then getting shadowed and then gaining back brilliance and glitter again. ... Everything about the Lakers is like fireworks that make nights clear and colorful. It's a bliss, an emotion, and an honor to be a Purple & Gold fan. To me, it's also a sort of duty. I want that style, elegance; the fantasy and the power of this extraordinary franchise gets reflected in the class of their fans. It's us, me and you, and everyone else who jumps up on chairs at every layup by our guys that make LakerNation so lively, flamboyant and special. We are special, and we make a special team just perfect. What is memorable about being Lakers fans is that we can spill the beans for ages about the smallest detail of any player's play, but then we all know our major joy comes through them all. They give us magic and we give them passion. To repeat ... to repeat ... to repeat. Ad libitum. Everything about the Lakers is memorable. EVERY DARN THING. ;) Just watch out: Next missing heartbeat is around any corner. ;) And I can't wait to catch it all along with you, Laker Fam. Live to win, and trust Purple & Gold Knights!
-- Mark Medina
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Photos, from top: ZairaAmaterasu first became a Lakers fan after her cousin showed her a Magic Johnson jersey. Credit: Zaira Scotti. Kobe Bryant, triumphant. Zaira says she admires Bryant's work ethic. Credit: Christina House / For The Times. Bryant on the court. Zaira says she met Bryant in Italy and England. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times