Lakers blog profile: TNTLakerFan was all about the Lakers after watching the 1991 Finals
This is the eighth 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: TNTLakerFan
Occupation: Case manager
Hometown: Kansas City, KS.
Story behind your screen name: My initials are TNT, and I am a Lakers a fan.
How I became a Lakers fan: I fell in love with basketball and began playing at an early age. When I was around 7 years old, my mother put a framed picture of Magic Johnson in my bedroom for my birthday. I saw the 1991 Finals against the Bulls on TV a short time after. Game 1 was amazing, and went down to the wire with Sam Perkins hitting a huge shot. Even though they lost the series, from that point on I was all about the Lakers. Then the Lakers had Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, which was during my teen years, and it just kind of got out of hand. I had a Lakers alarm phone, autographs and countless other memorabilia. The fact that I was playing high school and junior college basketball during that time period makes it all the more nostalgic because locker rooms are the place for debates about who is the best, and it was good to have my squad winning.
Favorite Lakers memory of all time: It had to be watching the ups and downs of that glorious and redeeming Game 7 in the 2009-10 season, and then watching Ron Artest's postgame interview on NBATV live. I have to say the Pau Gasol trade as well, that is still just unfathomable to me how Mitch Kupchak pulled that one off. I was at the gym working out when I got a text from a friend that stated we had acquired Pau for Kwame Brown, and I thought he was kidding.
2009-10 season: Watching Ron shut down Carmelo Anthony on national TV. That was really Ron’s coming-out party as far as being a Laker, and was a sign of things to come. There were guys at my job that were telling me all year that the Lakers were going down to Denver, and how Carmelo ate them up the year prior in the playoffs, and my reply was that that was the reason we obtained Artest. This was an ongoing argument with these haters all year long leading up to the playoffs, and the argument always was subject to change. First it was Carmelo, then LeBron James, and finally Paul Pierce in the Finals. This was a game that signified not only a Lakers victory, but also a sign of things to come in the playoffs
Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: When the Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons in 2004. I really thought that we were a team of destiny that year.
Favorite Lakers player: Pau Gasol. Seriously, this guy is STILL underrated. Look at the Lakers record since his acquisition, and top that with three straight 2010 NBA Finals appearances. Take a gander at his line in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals; 19 points, 18 rebounds (9 offensive), four assists, and two blocks. Wow. Pundits need to take heed, those are Hakeem Olajuwon-esque. I also like the fact that he has well-rounded interests and seems to not let anything bother him while on the court or with media exposure. He disproved the myth of his alleged “softness” this year by dominating every round of the 2010 playoffs.
Greatest all-time Laker: Kobe Bryant. Kobe is also top five all-time as well. He has to be fiercest competitor of his generation. He truly is a sniper in basketball shorts, has five rings and played in seven NBA Finals. He is reminiscent of Jordan as far as moves (turnaround fall-away jumper), and the fact that he hit game winners with ease, but he truly is unique and original as well. I mean 81 points? In an era of superior athletic talent? That is simply remarkable. It ranks right up there with the most mythical individual performances of all time. He is also complete on both ends of the court. Ten times all-defensive first team and teams call offensive sets away from his side of the court. Probably the one most intelligent players ever as well, he reads defenses as well as any point guard and calls out plays. He has unbelievable basketball knowledge, and should have a future as a general manager one day. His European upbringing and enigmatic personality make him all the more unique. Mix that with the fact that he has the best work ethic in the NBA, and one day he could be considered the greatest, hands-down.
Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: 2009 at the Staples Center; never at the Forum.
Opposing team, player you dislike the most: Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics. What is strange is that, being from Kansas City, I am also a KU basketball fan, and he was a favorite of mine while he attended. But that soon turned to hate when he began in Boston. His fake Willis Reed finals entrance was the last straw. Watching Ron shut him down was wonderful and fulfilling to me as a Laker fan.
Interactions with Lakers players: I once played in a pick-up game with Anthony Peeler at an outdoor court in Kansas City. He is originally from Kansas City. He was on another level, nobody could stop him.
Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have: An autographed Kobe Bryant basketball that I bought his rookie year for a much lower price than I would today.
Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: 1. I bet someone $20 at a sports bar that the Lakers would beat the Spurs in Game 4 of the 2004 Western Conference Finals. When Tim Duncan hit his shot, I couldn't believe it. When I saw Derek Fisher's ".04 shot" go through the net, I went crazy. The $20 was fine, but seeing the disbelief on the guy’s face was priceless.
2. During the 2000 Western Conference Finals, the Portland Trailblazers held a 15-point lead in the fourth with something like 11 minutes to go. Who would have thought that the Blazers would miss 13 shots in a row? My best friend had come over to watch the game and left with around 10 minutes to go in the game. He had something like a 30-minute drive home, and I called his house right after Kobe threw the famous alley-oop to Shaquille and said, "Turn on the game."
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: TNTLakersFan became a Lakers fan when he watched the 1991 NBA Finals featuring Magic Johnson and the Lakers against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Credit: Los Angeles Times