Lakers blog profile: utzworld THE BANNER HOLDER instantly became a Laker fan after moving to L.A.
Real name: Chris Utley. Married to my wife Ilayna (Mrs. Banner Holder) for almost 10 years with 2 kids. Y'all know them as Mini Banner Holder (real name Benjamin - 4 years old & shouted LET'S GO LAKERS at his first Dodger game this summer!) and Mini Banner Holderette (real name Mikayla - 1 year old, happily showing no effects from that lead poisoning episode earlier this year, and is the only person in this house who'll actually watch a Laker game with me...she and I witnessed Derek Fisher's 3-pointer against Orlando when she was just 1 month old!)
Occupation: Data analyst by day. By night, I'm a Playwright (BA in theatre from Grambling State University)/poet/songwriter (got the words and melodies in my head but can't play a lick of music!)/screenwriter/film guru (I analyze & critique film, I run three film clubs and am a walking talking IMDB - Internet Movie Database. I'm more passionate about Film than I am about the Lakers, believe it or not!)
Age: 37 (will be 38 on 10/21)
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo. Born and raised there till I was 12 years old. Relocated to L.A. in February 1985
Story behind your screen name: Utzworld is my nickname (Utley's World). Contrary to popular belief, THE BANNER HOLDER is not a religious reference. It's just a Laker reference. My mother held down the Laker fan banner in our family for years. Now that I'm grown, I proudly hold that banner with gusto and vigor. But Mama Banner Holder still rings me up every five games or so to vent her frustrations with the refs, the bench and Phil Jackson's coaching style (she hates Phil's Zen Master schitck ... she'd rather have a coach jump all up in their faces when they screw up!)
Since the K-Bros regime and up to now, I am unofficially Lakers Blog Chaplain responsible for submitting (the inexplicably controversial) Game Day Prayers before most Laker games. When the injury bug hit the Lakers in 2008, I was challenged to start praying for the team on a daily basis. I thought that was a bit too much. After more sprained ankles, nasty flu bugs and that devastating injury to Andrew Bynum (the first one) in Memphis, I started the Game Day Prayer -- it's much maligned and hated on, but I know that the same God who hears our prayers about our own struggles and pains AND the pains cried out across the world is big enough to hear and respond to our prayers for our team's success as well.
How I became a Lakers fan: I moved to L.A. in February 1985. A few days after arriving, my aunt took me to my first pro basketball game (she had season tickets for years). I knew nothing of basketball or the NBA at the time ... but upon that first visit to the Forum, I was HOOKED! I spent those first few games starry-eyed and amazed at the love and support leveled upon our team. Kareem, Magic and the crew played the game with excellence. It was as if both the team and everyone watching expected no less than a decisive win. After my first championship experience later that summer, Chick, chants of De-fense and Dancing Barry have been cherished parts of my life.
Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-2010 season: All time: Horry's 3-pointer against Sacramento. I hollered and danced around my living room so loud and proud that my wife thought the Lakers had won the NBA championship! 2009-2010 season: The championship sealing Rajon Rondo airball with the rebound dished cross court Kobe! I was sick as a dog from the flu. Couldn't scream, couldn't holler, voice sounding like gravel and yuckiness. But when Kobe grabbed that rebound and threw his fist in the air, I mustered up all the strength I could to scream in jubilation.
Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: Two of them. First, I was in the Forum when Dennis Johnson hit that buzzer beater in the 1985 Finals. I still can hear the deafening silence. Mama Banner Holder is still mad at me and my aunt for bringing home a loss that day. Second, Game 6 of the 2008 Finals. All that talk I did on the blog about ALREADY DONE and they lost. HARD! I cried. HARDER! It wasn't just that we lost to THEM...it was HOW WE LOST... AND WHO WE LOST TO!
Favorite Lakers player: Kobe. Forget trying to be like Mike ... Kobe's just trying to do himself.
Greatest all-time Laker: Magic. Always and forever the heart and soul of the franchise!
Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: Staples: February of 2008, which just so happened to be Pau Gasol's first home game. The bonus: Thanks to my wife's job, my seats were on the Luxury Suite level with all the swanky food and concierge service. AWESOME. Forum: Christmas 1994 - the dark and dry years. All I remember is that the game went to OT.
Opposing team, player you dislike the most: Losstown Septics. Every player who wears that vomit-inducing green uniform! IMHO, the only thing good to come from Boston is the group New Edition!
Interactions with Lakers players: None for me, but Mama Banner Holder got Coop's autograph in 1987. She took a picture with him too. That picture is still somewhere in her house.
Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have: When Shaq/Kobe were battling Portland in the 2000 playoffs, I won a Lakers Mug while playing skee-ball or something. I did not drink from it till they sealed the championship that year. As a result, that mug is called The Mighty Goblet of Champions. After every championship, I make a cheesy announcement that "tonight, we will drink from the mighty goblet of champions" and gladly sip some ice cold H2O from it!
Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: 1. Going to the 2009 Coliseum celebration was a blast. I hung out with Faith (yes...THE Faith), Rick Friedman and other Lakers blog peeps. It was one thing to watch it all on TV ... it was an entirely different experience being there! The sea of Purple & Gold and "I Love LA" blasting from the speakers as Kobe walked down the Coliseum steps with the O'Brien in hand was unforgettable! 2. My aforementioned experience watching Pau's first home game. They scored 75 points in the first half. My nephew spent the whole ride to Staples talking about how the Lakers sucked and how LeBron James and the Cavs were gonna kill us in the playoffs. This same kid spent the next 4 quarters shellshocked from sitting amongst Laker Nation and began to cheer EVERY LAKER BASKET, EVERY PAU PUT-BACK & EVERY BREAKAWAY DUNK BY KOBE & TREVOR. All I could do is stare and stare at the poor kid shaking my head. Then, driving back home, he started talking LeBron smack all over again. To this day, he denies the incident ever happened! So sad.
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Photos: Chris Utley (utzworld The BANNER HOLDER) became a Lakers fan shortly after moving to L.A. He lives with his wife, Ilayna, daughter Mikayla and son Benjamin. Credit: Chris Utley