Lakers blog profile: CyberCosmiX has plenty of Laker stories to share
This is the 12th 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Screen name: CyberCosmiX
Occupation: Self-employed, although not doing much more at the moment outside of working on a fixer-upper and being a stay-at-home dad since the wife works afternoon/evenings.
Hometown: Apple Valley
Story behind your screen name: I've used the name CyberCosmiX since about the mid-'90s when I incorporated that name to use for business. Specifically, I had owned and operated a comic book store for five years previously, and originally wanted to use the name Cosmic Comics, but that name was taken as a .com. So just played around with the name to come up with this one; it was also suited the Web work I was doing at that time. Definitely too much info... :)
How I became a Lakers fan: I started out collecting basketball cards around 1975 when I was 7 years old. Most kids around Torrance at that time collected baseball or football cards, but basketball cards were more intriguing to me. One of the guys my older sister was dating at the time gave me an old shoebox full of them, so I was able to at least see the legendary players this way, Wilt, Russell, West, Baylor, etc... I always loved the sport itself but didn't know much about it besides the Harlem Globetrotters. I don't remember ever watching even a single televised pro game during my early youth, I'd just look at the standings of the different teams every so often in the L.A. Times. Ironically, I do remember watching Chick Hearn on "Bowling For Dollars" without even knowing who he was at the time. My favorite player was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but I wasn't necessarily a real big Laker fan, mostly since they weren't a great team during the mid-'70s and I liked to pick favorite sports teams at that time based on their mascots or logos, lol.
My first "favorite" team was the Knicks simply because I had more of their basketball cards than other teams. Crazy, I know. In '78 my mom and I flew out to Seattle to visit an aunt and she bought me a yellow and green Supersonics T-shirt, so I rooted for Seattle for about a year. When the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson, I quickly returned to being a Laker fan, staying one ever since (and forever more). It was also around that time that I started listening to Chick call Laker games; I recall many a night falling to sleep to Chick's voice.
Favorite Lakers memory of all time: Leaving for a vacation with my parents to Santa Barbara right around the start of Game 5 of the Lakers/Sixers '82 Finals, listening to Chick call a lot of the game, but the radio started losing reception as we got past Malibu, so I asked to come sit up front and spent most of the second half trying to barely turn the stereo knob to the left or right to better tune in the game. As we drove down the coast we'd get a few seconds of Chick calling the action above the static here and there, and I know the noise was driving my mom crazy, lol. Unfortunately the Lakers lost that game, but came back to win the series in the next game.
I also remember calling Chick on the LakerLine pregame show he would do, this was around '87. I had been trying to get through for a couple of weeks, and finally managed to get through one afternoon. In the long minutes waiting for him, I got the hair-brained idea to record the call. So I quickly went and grabbed a cassette and readied my dad's old tape recorder, putting it up against the radio. As I waited some more I started to get nervous of being on the radio for the first time. Suddenly, Chick's voice was on the phone saying Mike in Torrance, and between trying to remember to hit record on the tape recorder, and ask Chick a couple of questions, I ended totally freezing up. The only thing I even remembered to say was Hi and ask if the Lakers might trade for Ralph Sampson. He asked me my age first, and my favorite Laker before answering and saying something to the extent that it would never happen, the Rockets would want too much in return because they would be breaking up their Twin Towers. I was disappointed in myself for freezing up; the worst part though is I somehow messed up recording our little conversation, but still I was very excited to have spoken to Chick. I'll never forget that.
Favorite Lakers memory: My favorite on-court Laker memories are beating the hated Celtics in Boston to win the '85 World Championship, winning the '00 title and jumping in the car with my son to join celebrate outside the Staples Center -- which unfortunately had become a riot in the time we drove there -- plus wrapping up the '09 title in Orlando. Also, the fourth-quarter comeback in '00 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Trail Blazers. Still can't believe that one. Of course Magic's baby-hook, Fish's .04, Big-Shot Rob's game winning three-point shot vs. the Kings as time expired in '02, the comeback win vs the Suns in '06 playoffs, Kobe's game in '04 vs. the Blazers that gave Lakers the Pacific Division Title, the 81-point game..... sorry, can't pick just one, oh so many great Laker memories!
2009-10 season: Outside of the second half of Game 7 of the NBA Finals, which was just so very sweet, mmmm ... so many great moments this year, but for me the single best one was Ron Ron's catch-and-putback versus the Suns in the playoffs -- when he hit it my two older sons and I all went berserk, jumping around like crazy. Another great moment was watching Kobe hit that game-winning shot over Dwyane Wade during the regular season, coming on the heels of Wade's basket, Kobe leaping off of one foot, squaring his body in mid-air, letting it fly and bouncing it in. The entire play seemed like it was run in slow motion, so sweet the ending. Kobe's game-winner against Sacramento was a beautiful moment, too. I must say, we hooted and hollered I think more times last season than any other. Thank you Kobe for hitting all those exciting game-winners!
Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: Definitely it was watching Ralph Sampson hit that lucky mid-air catch-and-shoot off a mid-court inbounds pass with a second left on the clock in Game 5 of the '86 Western Conference Finals, clinching the series at the Forum. That was devastating; the Lakers had such a nice team that season, going for the elusive back-to-back titles that the Lakers had been chasing throughout the Showtime era, and messing up a rematch with the Celtics. Listening to the delight Tommy Heinsohn displayed on the CBS telecast after the shot is like getting salt rubbed into the wound. Man, did I despise that Heinsohn! Losing in '04 and '08 were pretty tough, too, but those were more prolonged agonies.
Favorite Lakers player: It's a tie, Magic and Kobe. My favorite unsung hero is Michael Cooper, wiry frame, short shorts, socks pulled up to the knees and feisty to the bone. Coop never gets enough props for all he did, and the excellence he played defense.
Greatest all-time Laker: That's easy, Chick Hearn. Laker player? So many great Lakers, an embarrassment of riches, really. At this point in time I've gotta give Magic the edge over Kobe; Kareem too. However, god forbid barring major injury, I believe that Kobe will go down not only as the greatest of all Lakers, but the entire NBA. He's got some work to do still, but the intensity, work ethic and dedication to the game he brings should carry him and the Lakers to more winning years, hopefully title-winning. This dynasty is just getting started.
I've got to acknowledge Shaq and give him props for having the single most dominant season I've ever personally witnessed a player have, in '99-00. I never saw Wilt, but I could imagine that Shaq was the closest thing to him that season. He was so completely dominating centers, he was breaking them down so thoroughly, he was a force of nature that year. Unfortunately, he never took his training and conditioning seriously.
Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: I made sure I went and took my sons to the final regular season Laker game at the Forum in '99 against the Trail Blazers. There was a preseason Laker game the next season at the Forum which we also attended -- it was a Great Western Shootout doubleheader, Lakers playing the Phoenix Suns in the second game. Incredibly, I remember it wasn't even sold out; I couldn't believe what may be the final game played in that historic arena and Laker fans passed on the chance to be there. Well, we didn't, and we had the best tickets we've ever sat in the Forum for that game, just a couple rows back of one of the baskets. Funny thing is, during the game, our son Brandon, who was 4 at the time, was antsy from sitting for several hours through the first game and now a second one, decided to run under the basket, on the court. Luckily, it was during a break in play, and right at the end of a Laker Girl routine, as they were walking back to their endline spots. One of the Laker Girls grabbed him by the hand and brought him to us; we had rushed from our seats to get him.
The last game I went to at the Staples Center was a playoff game against the Timberwolves in '03; I believe it was Game 4 without digging up the ticket stub. It was very special because it was the final sporting event my father attended during his life, and our entire family got to go to that game. We sat in the Hollywood Park Casino luxury box, my father was friends with the owner. Great memories from that day.
Opposing team, player you dislike the most: It used to be Bill Laimbeer, but currently it's Paul Pierce. I can see LeBron James eventually becoming my most disliked because of his arrogance, egotistical attitude and his eagerness to play second fiddle while continuing to call himself King and Chosen One, but until the Lakers face him in the Finals it will continue to be Pierce. He wasn't particularly effective this past NBA Finals, but I'm sure every Laker fan thinks back to the infamous moment that he got wheeled out in that granny wheelchair, only to come back out onto the court like a minute later. All I can say is that was a pathetic attempt to create a Willis Reed moment; either that or he should be a soccer player.
Most disliked team is easy, the Celtics. I join with NBA fans around the globe in universally hating the Miami Heat, but it's the Celtics that I love to hate the most. I don't wear green, hate leprechauns, four-leaf clovers and most former Celtic players. By the way, would the Celtics have been able to trade for Kevin Garnett if it wasn't a gift from Kevin McHale? He was helping his old team and buddy Danny Ainge by accepting Al Jefferson and a boatload of scrubs for him rather than the much better Laker proposed trade of Odom/Bynum and a couple of No. 1's for KG. Now we can all thank McHale, that trade would have killed the Lakers. Thanks Kevin!
Interactions with Lakers players: Saw Elden Campbell and family at IKEA in Carson, circa '93; they were buying some furniture and standing in line in front of us. He was just as low-key in real life as he was on the court. Ran into Corie Blount around '98 at the Sam's Club in Torrance. Also saw Mychal Thompson at the Hollywood Park Hotel a couple hours before a Laker weekend game at the Forum, I think it was '88. I would see Jerry Buss every so often at the Hollywood Park Casino, also at the Bell Casino. My dad even went up to him one time we saw him at Hollywood Park Racetrack, this was in early Showtime days, and mentioned to him that his mother's side of the family are also Buss, jokingly saying our families might be related. They talked for a little bit about their family trees. Buss would say hi to him after that time whenever they'd cross paths at casinos they'd play cards at throughout the years.
Ran across Magic Johnson various times at L.A. sporting events, including at a Dodger Game around '85, and again a few months later at a Rams playoff game in Anaheim, in which they beat the Cowboys. Getting off topic, but I got to go the very next day see the Raiders lose to the Patriots in the Coliseum. Two NFL playoff games in L.A. on one weekend. Man, those were the days, the middle of Laker Showtime, the Dodgers were good, and two NFL teams to watch.
Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have: For sure it is Pat Riley's game notes and plays scribbled on the light-blue pad of paper he used to diagram on, with the a half-court imprinted on it. It was a late-season '89 game against the Mavs. There's about eight pages of diagrammed plays, and I remember it was a close game the Lakers won. Since my father suffered heart trouble, we used to wait until everyone left and the ushers would shoo us out at sporting events to miss the cattle herd of people exiting, and the traffic. So, we'd sit, and I used to scan the exiting crowd with my binoculars (trying to spot pretty girls :) ) but this day I focused on the seats of the Lakers bench, and spotted that under Riley's chair he left those play diagrams behind, so I ran all the way down and grabbed them.
Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: During the late '80s my friends and I sneaked in and caught quite a few second halves of Laker games at the Forum. That was always fun, and all too easy to do.
My father and I went to Game 4 of the '85 Finals vs. the Celtics, the most exciting Laker game I've ever attended. A very tight game throughout; unfortunately Dennis Johnson won them the game in the last second, hitting a jumper. It was a crushing defeat and as despondent a Laker crowd as I've ever seen. After the game, since we'd always stay after, I went over and joined a few fans standing behind Brent Musburger, who was doing a live postgame wrap-up for CBS. Well, I got a little out of hand, starting a very derogatory chant about Larry Bird which the CBS mics picked up. During a break, Musburger turned to a few of us that were now doing it and asked us to please stop. When they came back to him and he started talking again of course we restarted the chant, at much higher volume and more gusto, joined by even more fans. I was told by friends later that it was written about and mentioned on sports news; apparently that didn't go over too well in Boston. Man, I'd love to have footage of that!
My friend Michael and I decided to skip school and ride our bikes to the '85 Laker rally at the Forum, it was held in the rear parking lot. I remember there were quite a few beer bottles scattered about, and a van had run one over and got a flat tire. Michael laughed at them, not a smart move. It was a great rally, and afterwards we hopped on bikes and started riding out. On the way out of the parking lot of course he rides right over a piece of broken glass, puncturing his inner tube. Talk about karma. I wasn't going to leave him behind, so we ended up walking our bikes back all the way to Torrance, about a three-hour walk it was. I remember when we finally got home it was starting to get dark, and we were both sore from walking bikes for so long a time, but definitely it was well worth it.
We also went to the '87 Laker rally, but by now we were driving. So a group of five of us played hooky and made the trek to downtown L.A. We managed to get quite close to the rally, right up to the barricade on the left side, under a tree. At one point, sportscaster Stu Nahan grabbed a Laker and began interviewing him right in front of us, though I can't for the life of me remember which player. A friend and I took the opportunity to grab sticks and used them to prod Stu during the interview. Stu was a true professional, he never lost focus, just moved forward a bit out of our reach. Naturally, it just made us stretch further and I managed to use the stick to come across his head and mess up his hair some. He never turned to us; I think everyone was in such a good mood that day it really didn't bother him. Gosh, thinking back, we were really bad... lol.
My two older boys' most memorable story is going to going to Staples Center on opening night in 1999, the first ever Laker game played there. I had made a tile inscribed with their names and the message "GO LAKERS!" which was placed in the walkway near the main entrance. I kept it a secret from them; they didn't know they had their own tile. I told my oldest son Galen to read all of the tiles on the floor to his younger brother and let me know if they spotted something familiar; they were confused but did so. However, there are hundreds of them and it took them quite a while to finally find their tile. They were very excited, and to top it off we got to go in and watch the first-ever Laker game in the building. Generally though, my father and I went to a lot of Laker games together; rooting the Lakers on with the family are the most memorable moments of being a Lakers fan.
Photo: The enclosed picture is of CyberCosmiX's four kids and himself at home in Apple Valley. From left to right, Brandon (holding Sandy, their pet chorkie, on his lap), CyberCosmiX (Mike) in back, Galen, Brian the clone trooper, and Samantha. Credit: CyberCosmiX
Photo: Magic Johnson's arrival in L.A. prompted CyberCosmiX to become a Lakers fan. Credit: Los Angeles Times.
Photo: The late Chick Hearn is the greatest Laker, according to CyberCosmiX. Credit: Los Angeles Times.
Photo: Magic Johnson is one of several Lakers players CyberCosmiX says he's met. Credit: Tiziana Sorge / AFP/Getty Images
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