Lakers blog profile: Jon K explains how Derek Fisher's clutch shooting saved his life
This is the third 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 protected]
Screen name: Jon K.
Real name: "I've been told every week for the last 15 years that I look like Fabio or some professional wrestler. I hate that, but I guess that's what happens when you look like Fabio. If you see me on the street and ask me to say, "I can't believe it's not butter," you may get a throat punch."
Occupation: Project manager at a public relations firm; freelance writer; freelance event production and artist development consultant
Hometown: Born in Newport Beach, raised in Agoura Hills, went to UCLA, now getting ready to move to Studio City.
Story behind your screen name: I used to use my real name until a Kazahkstani billionaire used a Google search to get into a blog I had on my MySpace account. He freaked out on some innocuous little comment I made noting how close his first name was to "Borat" (one letter off), and withdrew a verbal agreement for a $10 million investment in a start-up company I was creating to develop scorpion farms in the Dominican Republic to use their venom to develop nutraceuticals to treat cancer. The calamity resulted in my being thus interned for 2-1/2 additional years in Cleveland, Ohio under the most trying of circumstances which included co-managing a club filled with gangsters, thugs, and the worst kinds of vile vileness. I now do not use my real name online.
How I became a Lakers fan: I first became aware that I was a Lakers fan by listening to Chick Hearn in the garage as a kid while my father worked on his car during the Magic Era. There wasn't an event that made me a Lakers fan. It was just natural growing up in California, but if it there were to be one precipitant, it would be listening to Chick Hearn. I loved spending time with my father and my grandfather died at an early age, so I developed a kind of "grandfatherly" association with Chick Hearn. His passion, skill, and humor was utterly infectious. That's what hooked me in, but it seems like being a native Los Angelenan that being a Lakers fan is just part of your core identity. You don't become a Lakers fan. Being a Lakers fan is part of one's birthright as a Southern California native.
Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-2010 season: 1) All-time: Robert Horry's last-second shot to beat the Kings in the playoffs. I was watching the game in Playa del Rey with a group of friends and when that shot went in, the entire neighborhood exploded in celebration. It was just a wave of energy firing out all the windows of the street and rolling out into the air. It was amazing. 2) 2009-2010: Game Seven Finals. Beating the Celtics felt so darned good. 'Nuff said.
Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: Losing to Detroit in the 2004 Finals. It was just such a rough season emotionally with all the fighting and immaturity. The entire season was emotionally draining, but I thought it would be worth it when we won the Finals. Actually with Derek Fisher's 0.4 shot, I thought victory was predestined ... and then Karl Malone got hurt and we fell apart against the accursed Pistons. This was to be followed by the breakup of the team. It was a miserable time.
Favorite Lakers player: Derek Fisher
Greatest all-time Laker: Kobe Bryant/Jerry West/Magic Johnson/George Mikan. There is no "Greatest" Laker, but there are four who deserve to be in the highest pantheon.
Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: Actually the last time I went to the Staples Center I saw the Clippers and the last time I went to the Forum it was to see the Los Angeles Kings.
Opposing team, player you dislike the most: Team: Celtics. Player: LeBron James.
Interactions with Lakers players: Robert Horry: I met him at a film premier in Beverly Hills. He was a patient gentleman; however, this was during the 2002-2003 season and I remember thanking him for things going so well for the team and his eyes tensed up a bit. He clearly knew that things weren't all that great in the locker room that season. Rick Fox: I met him at party at a mansion in Beverly Hills. I forget the nature of the event but my invite was associated with the Hollywood Foreign Press. He was kind of a jerk and had a petite little blonde girl following him around like a puppy while he was married to Vanessa Williams. Derek Fisher's publicist: So far, so good.
Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have: Magic Johnson jersey, but I'm not much into memorabilia.
Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: Too many to rattle off, but I'll try...
1) Many involve a lucky barstool in Hudson, Ohio, that ended up having a 92% winning percentage when I sat on that barstool. I would get there hours early sometimes just to make sure I had that barstool for the game, all the while surrounded by LeBroniacs who for years attempted to goad me into fist fights and who for years aggressively insulted and ridiculed me, but when the 2009 Championship happened, approximately 20 of these LeBroniacs came up to me and said, "You were right. Your team was the best. Congratulations," and shook my hand. It was surreal, but it seems Clevelanders man up when they talk smack and then are beaten.
2) During Game Seven of the 2010 Finals I was watching the game in Flagstaff, Ariz., in a bar filled with Suns fans who had mutated for the evening into Septics fans. It was me, another Lakers fan and approximately 35 "Celtics" fans. Once again people hurled insults my way, but as we fell down by 13 points in the second half, I got up on top of the bar and screamed out at the crowd, "WE ARE NOT LOSING THIS ... GAME!!!" And I proceeded to shout down an entire room of Suns/Mutant Celtics fans like a man possessed. As the room grew quiet, I grew louder and the other Laker fan joined in. I was screaming at the top of my lungs when Ron Artest made that late three-pointer to seal the game. I was so utterly swept up in ecstasy with the victory. It was a phenomenal feeling.
3) Perhaps my sharpest memory is Derek Fisher's 0.4 shot possbily saving my life. I was going through a rough patch in my life during the 2003-2004 season and I ended up watching Game Five against the Spurs at some rando empty bar just south of Seal Beach on PCH. I'm literally alone in this bar and this man walks in, a huge Ukrainian man, who proceeds to sit down next to me and engage me in conversation while I'm trying to watch the game. He basically infers that he's in the Russian mafia and does something involving money laundering, it seemed. (Yes, I also don't know why this person was telling me this, but people have a tendency to share intimate details about their life with me. I don't have an explanation for it.) Perhaps because I'm focused on the game, this giant thug proceeds to begin insulting me and the Lakers screaming obscenities about the Lakers and repeatedly shouting, "The Lakers are going to lose!"Repeatedly I politely asked the guy to get out of my face and told him I just wanted to watch the game in peace, but he didn't care one bit and just kept riding me. Over time it began to wear on me and I started to lose my temper. Now this guy probably had 75 pounds on me and looked like he could more than handle himself, but I grew increasingly frustrated that this guy was ruining the game for me for no darned good reason. And then Tim Duncan made that shot and I just lost it. I put my head down on the bar, curled my right hand into a tight fist, as this man stood behind me still shouting, "The Lakers are going to lose! The Lakers suck!" and I was just going to unleash all fury on this guy the instant that time expired...and then Derek Fisher made the shot.
Derek Fisher made the shot. And I swirled around in joy and screamed, "... Go Lakers!" And let out a high-pitched war cry and danced around in joy. Surprisingly, this giant Ukrainian thug apologized and then sat down next to me and bought us shots of top-shelf vodka. It was really something. So, yeah, if Derek Fisher had not made that shot, who knows what would have happened. That miracle shot was a miracle in many different ways.
--Mark Medina[email protected]
Photo: Jon K. has rubbed elbows with Robert Horry and Rick Fox. Credit: Jon K.
Photo: Jon K. credits the late Chick Hearn, the Lakers' legendary play-by-play announcer, for cementing his fanhood. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press.
Photo: With only 0.4 to get the shot off, Derek Fisher made his famous fling against the Spurs in the 2004 Western Conference semifinals. The shot apparently saved Jon K's life. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times