Lakers blog profile: Faith's nickname originates from her optimism about the Lakers
This is the 22nd 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: Faith
Real name: Jem Joven
Occupation: Nurse by day, rally capper by night.
Hometown: Somewhere in Orange County
Story behind your screen name: Not sure if most people know this (some do) but Faith isn't actually my real name. I know, shocker. But actually it's borne out of my endless "faith" in the Lakers and what they can do. Just think about it -- 16 championships, more playoffs and finals than most teams can imagine, and time and again a tradition of winning that transcends economies, wars, famine, injuries. OK, maybe not famine, but certainly through many years of trials and tribulations they are often more on top than the bottom. That is why I have faith. I believe in the organization, I believe in tradition, I believe in the Lakers. Through thick and thin.
How I became a Lakers fan: Living in Southern California, it's not hard to root for the Lakers. I remember being in middle school with my Lakers jacket being asked, "Are you a Lakers fan?" And I would answer, "Not really." Oh, memories.
In a lot of ways I miss those times when my life didn't revolve around the season, when the ups and downs didn't affect my emotional well-being. But being a Lakers fan has its rewards, and as we're coming off the second consecutive back-to-back in my fanaticism (short answer, 1996), life as a Lakers fan is and can be sweet.
I still remember the euphoria of Robert Horry's game-winning shot; Derek Fisher's "one great shot deserves another"; and, of course, Kobe Bryant's 81-point night. But I also remember the bad times, getting eliminated by the Jazz in 1997, getting our hearts broken after such a heroic effort in 2007. (Note to self: The number 7 does not bode well for the Lakers). And the hopes and dreams of 2004.
Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-10 season: Of all time? Robert Horry's game winner against Phoenix in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Can't go wrong with Big Shot Rob. To be perfectly honest, I didn't see it. I was an avid fan back then, but one with a weaker stomach than I do now. So much anxiety and so much hanging in the balance I had to turn the TV off. But I do remember the moment. The best Lakers memories live in the moment. Horry's shot was one of them. For a span of what felt like 10 minutes (when really it was mere seconds), all I could hear were the cheers. What's great about living in Southern California is that not everyone is a Lakers fan but there's something about the playoffs that sweeps you in even when you're not. When that shot dropped, screams could be heard all around my neighborhood. And it's a moment I will never forget. And will probably always regret (weak stomach and all).
But on the plus side I have another moment, my second-best-all-time moment: Derek Fisher's game winner in San Antonio. I was actually at Pantages Theatre during the game seeing a play. It was intermission and the crowd gathered near the bar to just get a glance at the game. It was an epic game and one I can proudly say I saw and experienced.
Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: 2007 and 2004. Pick one. There's something about losing against the Phoenix Suns that just grinds my gears. I don't pretend whatever we had was a rivalry because to have a rivalry, your opponent has to win, but I do remember the pain of defeat. And the mourning that followed it. I think that's what separates Lakers fans and Lakers players from the rest, we don't just internalize defeat, we actually live it. It affects our daily being, our state of mind and it's one that we never forget and always strive to overcome. I am still to this day trying to get over our defeat against the Detroit Pistons. And I still to this day cannot stand to hear "Detrroiittt basketball!" Ugh.
Favorite Lakers player: Michael Cooper -- Cooooopppp!!!! I'm sure plenty of people will ask, "Hey why not Sasha Vujacic? Hasn't he been your guy since the beginning of time?" I got much love for Sasha (apart from him breaking my heart and all *wink*), but I love Coop's passion. I'm not old enough to have actually seen him play, but the thing about technology is you can revisit the past through videos and clips, and his passion then and now is something I am in awe of. Cooper talks the game the way I imagine any of us do with our friends. With a sense of kinship, a sense of ownership and a sense of tradition. His play wasn't bad, either. The guy knows his hard court. His defense in particular ... on a team of superstars, his defense stood out and that is perhaps the best compliment you can give. Defense is more than just skill, it's a desire and a passion, one that I think we see from him even to this day.
Greatest all-time Laker: Chick Hearn. That counts, right? Chick taught me the game. With his baritone voice and smooth delivery, he quite literally taught me the game. Before I stepped foot on the hard court, before I donned on my first sneakers there was Chick telling me why moving your feet is so important, why spacing is so important, why we are the Lakers that we are. Chick spans the time from what was to what is. He epitomized the Lakers spirit ... winningness, professional and legendary. He is the Lakers and the Lakers are him. I don't use his closing call lightly, I use it with a reverence and a respect to the greatest Laker ever. And I like to think that wherever he is, he's celebrating right there with us through every victory, every champagne toast, every ring ceremony.
Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: Staples in 2008. We beat the Clippers. Not exactly the best Lakers game imaginable, but it was an experience I will always remember. There's something about being in the building. Lakers crowds get the short end of the stick, but they're not passionless, they're just as voracious as the next Lakers fan, but they pick their spots. But then again, whenever I go, I sit near the roof (almost quite literally), and in a lot of ways I think it's more fun that way.
Opposing team, player you dislike the most: If there's something to be said for hate being just another form of fear, then I'd say I hate the Boston Celtics. It's not so much I'm fearful of them as it stands -- I can still hear the Kobe MVP chant in Boston Garden -- it's that there's history there that enhances that which I am already anxious about. Think about it, in 12 meets (feels like 25) we have been devastated far too often and only recently have we been able to get some of ours. I feel Jerry West's pain, Elgin Baylor's pain, Magic Johnson's, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's, Coop's and most recently (although we got our redemption) our pain from 2008. Lakers fans hate the Boston Celtics not because they matter as it stands (although I wouldn't underestimate them if I was the Miami Heat), but because we are well-versed in what was and what is to come. Namely, redemption.
Mantra: Defense! I've always had an aptitude for it. I think most people are aware of my penchant for long-winded defensive analysis (some call bunk, but to each his own), and really I've learned from watching what we've done and what works. I find myself comparing those same things to things that didn't (Smush Parker years kill me now!) and I can't help but be vocal about it. Defense wins championships isn't just an old adage, it's got a lot of basis on fact. In every team you always need that one or two guys that are not flashy but get the job done. Defense is almost always about wanting it more than the opponent and taking that which is their strength.
Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: There are too many to mention, but since this is a Lakers Blog questionnaire about being a Lakers fan, I'll go with Lakers Blog memories instead. Easier to identify. Lakers Blog began just as the dynasty ended. A time of rebuilding, a time of patience and a time of growth. Being a Lakers fan, we don't often go through a lot of these, and to say that the times were frustrating is an understatement. I just don't think we're built to be patient. It's pathologically tough for us! I joined because I had something to say, I had ongoing Lakers memories to share (Kobe's 81 points) and a kinship to fulfill. What makes Lakers Blog so great isn't the insider, the insight, not even the easy access to the Lakers and all Lakers news, but the community. These are people who, through the ups (two-time champs) and the downs (Smush Parker), will be there for you. To challenge your stand, to buck you up and in some ways to offer a laugh. And in warm April days of a dynasty, they are the ones that will stand amongst the hoard with you for a five-minute glimpse of our beloved Lakers and have Chinese food afterward. We actually now have our own sense of tradition borne out of our love for the Lakers and that is through every championship parade, we congregate and we celebrate the season that was. Lakers Blog (something we call Lakersville) is a strong community and there are no signs of it fading. So long live Lakersville! Long live the vets and the newbies! One love!
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Michael Cooper leaps into the arms of James Worthy in the final moments of Game 6 as the Lakers wrapped up the 1987 NBA title. Credit: Los Angeles Times.