Lakers blog profile: Don't Blame Del Harris has a fondness for the former Lakers coach
Screen name: Don't Blame Del Harris!
Occupation: Government Puppet
Hometown: Inland Empire
Story behind your screen name: It's not his fault! Nah, but I really enjoyed the Lake Show years. After Magic left in 1991, I refused to join the Chicago bandwagon (a la the Cowboys or 49ers in the NFL with their fair-weather-fans) and stuck it out during the lean years (phase one). Dunleavy had jumped ship. Randy Pfund was no Pfun. Worthy retired. Byron went to the Pacers, I believe. A.C. Green went to PHX, I think. Perkins went to Seattle for Benoit Benjamin and Doug Christie. Sedale was the starting point guard. We missed the playoffs in 1993, after just barely making it in 1992. Then we drafted Eddie Jones out of Temple. Campbell started playing better. Nick was Nick. Peeler was bombing away. Ceballos was getting 20 and 10 the hard way. And Del Harris took a rookie phenom, a young beast in the paint, along with the other youngsters, and won 50+ games for a few years. This is my tribute to Del. He's no Phil, but he ain't bad.
How I became a Lakers fan: Kevin Johnson and his Phoenix Suns only cemented my resolve as a new Lakers fan. 1991 was fun because we had a young Elden Campbell out of Clemson, and a Flopper Deluxe in Vlade. I am a Lakerholic. YES!
Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-2010 season:* All-time (a) - Watching Magic play LIVE in 1990.... I received some Lakers tickets for Christmas. It was a Clippers game, truthfully, but it was a game against the Lakers nonetheless. Magic even made a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter. I wore every piece of Lakers clothing I owned. At 15 years old, that wasn’t much! *All-time (b) - Nick Van Exel's buzzer-beating, game-winning, crowd-hushing, Garden-closing, 3-pointer in the Lakers' last game in the old Boston Garden. Nick at Nite issued his classic “SHHHH!” index-finger-over-lips move to the stunned crowd and by doing so, created an image that still makes me smile to this day.
*'09-'10 season: Ron's game-winner. Last time I shouted so loud was the 0.4 shot. I lost my voice for two days after each of those memorable events. Ron-Ron’s rebound from nowhere and game-winner prompted me to nearly blow out my knees from jumping up and down. I just shouted, “Ron Artest! Ron Artest! Ron Artest!” for about two minutes straight. My neighbor across the street asked my wife the next day, “Who exactly is Ron Artest?”
Most heartbreaking Lakers experience:* Magic retiring in 1991. He had become my favorite athlete; quite unusual for me because I was so terrible at sports. Something he did just pulled me in. Magic was always a joy to watch. *Ralph Sampson in 1986 -- 'nuff said. *The Double Hamstring Mambo in the '89 Finals. *2004 and 2008 Finals losses to old enemies. Bitter indeed! *Chick.
Favorite Lakers player: Kobe. His body of work is more than I ever thought we as Lakers fans would ever get to witness since the days of Magic, the first MJ! Kobe may be polarizing to the general public, but his accomplishments and abilities cannot be ignored. He will be considered one of the best ever when his playing days are over. The scary thing is that he's not done yet.
Greatest all-time Laker: Magic. He saved the NBA (w/Bird), ushered in the new generation, and captivated his audience with an unabashed style and flair that has yet to be matched. Imagine what could've been if he had not been stricken ill.... What a ride it was, though! Try to watch the 1992 NBA All-Star Game online someday. Magic made that game his personal statement to his family, his friends, his teammates, his opponents, his audience, and his illness that he would never be defeated. Priceless. The 3-pointers over Isiah Thomas and Mike were storybook endings in a time when the fans needed one.
Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: Staples Center, 2006. My wife had surprised me with a tickets to the Jazz/Lakers game in January for Christmas that year. I would finally get to see Kobe in person! Alas, it was not to be. Kobe was suspended for that Jazz/Lakers game after elbowing Mike Miller in the throat a few nights before. Forum, 1994. I was lucky enough to see a rookie named Eddie Jones, a young Nick Van Exel, and “Run TMC” during a game against Golden State. A lot of running, gunning and grinning that night.
Opposing team, player you dislike the most:I cannot stand the Celtics. PP, KG, every one of them is constantly on my list of potential Kobe victims. And LeBronze. I can’t wait for the Miami Cheats to flame out. Hopefully, the Lakers will be the team that puts their fire out.
Interactions with Lakers players: James Worthy autograph session @ Circuit City Monrovia; Luke Walton autograph session @ Upper Deck Store Huntington Beach; John Salley @ Sea World San Diego (meh); Kobe, Sasha, Pau, Trevor, and Luke @ Fiesta Lakers 2009
Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have:Kobe #8 UDA autographed home 2002 Finals jersey with Sept. 11th patch, Magic Johnson-signed basketball circa 1990, and a James Worthy Starting Lineup figure I purchased at Toys R Us way back when.
Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: Attending the 2000 Championship parade and rally, and living to tell about it. We left just before things got hairy. And watching the 2002 WCF, Game 7: After we won, I ran outside and started screaming. As I looked over my left shoulder, I saw my neighbor doing the same thing. We stared at each other for a second, silent and awkward. Then we high-fived each other and began to scream again. My wife still doesn't get it to this day. Also, watching the last game of the 2004 season when Kobe hit the game-tying, last-second three-pointer in Portland, then the subsequent game-winning three-pointer at the very end of overtime to secure the Pacific Division crown over Sacramento. That dude flexed so hard on those fools! My last memory is a continuous one: the blog crew! Thanks, everybody! Title heaven in 2011!
Photo: Don't Blame Del Harris argues that Harris got too much criticism when he was the Lakers' head coach in the mid-1990s. Credit: Los Angeles Times