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Lakers blog profile: utzworld THE BANNER HOLDER instantly became a Laker fan after moving to L.A.

UtzScreen name: utzworld THE BANNER HOLDER

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)

Gender: Male

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.

Utzworld familyHow 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 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.

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at

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

Comments () | Archives (44)

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Nice read, utzworld. Glad to know more about you, sir. :)

Keep praying bro! a prayer always count and always do good for others!
Nice to know more about you and your dinasty of banner holders.

I'm running out of gas lately. I need real games to fire me up to write more often.

Go Lakers!!!

Hiya utz! We've kinda sorta met formally on the renegade chat, but great to see your profile up and read your stories in more detail. Beautiful pic of the wife and kids, too! My fav part of your profile is reading how the mini bannerette holder is doing well now - so very happy about that! Hope all is going well with you, my friend....

Nice profile Utz. Let's hope you will be sipping from the Goblet of Champions come June!


i'm sorry to be so far behind, BUT quote:
second, Troy B-YES! the original is a good film and worth a giggle.
Posted by: mud | September 30, 2010 at 08:18 PM
~~That will tally Troy B group to 7 against Troy Beezy
P. Ang could settle the tie because he chose both so it's 1/2 pt. each. He could decide by toss a coin

Edwin, Edwin, Edwin....
what i wrote was a message to Troy B(or Beezy, if that's the new one). it told him that YES!, the original version of Bedazzled with Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Raquel Welch was a cool flick and worth checking out unlike the remake(in spite of a few funny scenes).

sorry for the confusion. the Troyster can use whatever fake name he want's as far as i am concerned. i do agree changing the name can be confusing, but, um, whatever...

i really HAVE enjoyed the controversy somehow, so don't get the idea i think i'm better than anyone else.

Great profile Utzworld - so nice to meet you! You and I share a common love beyond the Lakers...the Movies - I too think of myself as a walking, talking IMDb!!! What a beautiful family you have - way to keep the Laker love going generationally!

Yeah, UTZ - you are the man!

@JUSTA… Damn, girl. You got my vote for TWO IN A ROW. Great take on LeBron and race.
May your mantle continue to overflow. And you’re freakin’ funny, too. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mamba, I’ll sign the petition for Justa for President. Just so she’s not replacing Barrack.
@CAPS GOGGLES… Thanks for Sir Charles’ quote. I have to admit being down on the Chuckster for his Lakers hatred but he nailed the LeBron playing the race card. The stupider comment rocked.
@TROY B… There ought to be law against changing your blog name and blogging under another name. LOL. It’s hard enough keeping up with millions of comments on MM’s thousands of threads but now we have to remember the CyberCosmiX used to LakerMike but now LakerMike is LakerMike and Troy B, who used to be Troy (and a bunch of other handles I don’t remember) now wants to be Troy Beezy. I mean, really, it’s like trying to remember what number Ron Artest is. LOL!
@LITTLE MEN OVER BIG MEN. That was pretty funny. Of course, KD has not won anything yet and MJ really didn’t have a Bird or Magic to compete against. I mean, he owned a lot of teams that wouldn’t have a chance at the Finals today. But then, I wouldn’t put Melo in the class of KD or MJ. Earlier, I actually stated that Kevin Durant might be the only player for whom I would trade AB. Note the word “might.” 2 exceptions out of hundreds of cases doesn’t a rule much less a slogan.

@UTZ…. You know that MM sure knew what he was doing when he created the blogger profiles. It’s an honor and a pleasure meeting you, Chris, and your wife Ilayna and children Mikala and Benjamin. Your family is as beautiful as your smile and your constantly positive impact on the blog. After sharing so many Lakers triumphs and setbacks with you, it’s terrific to now have a face to put to the name. I hope all of the regular posters will send in their profiles. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t met any of the players, just tell us about your Laker memories and what you do and who you are. Anyway, JMHO.
Even though I don’t practice or preach any religion, I’ve always loved and supported your game day prayers. Never prayed for real in my life until Mrs. LakerTom got cancer. Don’t know if it worked but I do believe in good versus evil and what comes around goes around. One thing I do know for sure, however, is that it’s bloggers like you and Mamba 24 with your game day roll calls and prayers that have become a core part of what makes this blog so great. You guys win my Chick Hearn award.

Absolutely loved your profile and am so glad Mikayla is doing so well.

What a rich tradition you get to carry on by having gone to Grambling.

May God's rich blessing follow you and your family. I know we have been blessed to having you as a friend.

Fatty - Who still is learning how to use this iPad

Nice profile Utz!...and nice pics of the fam too.

Too all the other bloggers whose profiles preceded yours, I've enjoyed reading them as well.


I read this article yesterday and thought I'd share it with the blog fam. I have to say, I agree with the writer 100%.
BTW, he briefly comments on the Black Mamba in the article...enjoy.

Let's go Ls...all the way to a 3-peat!!!!!

UTZ - always a true pleasure to read your posts, whether game day or any day. Good stuff.

Thanks everyone! Friend me on Facebook if you can...and when you do, include your screen name so I don't ignore you!

Bro, can't hate on you're profile, nice family.
Go Miami

Oh yeah...since I mentioned my film clubs in my profile...

SoCal Movie Fanatics:
SCMF Classic Cinema:
The SoCal African American Cinema Connection:

Would LOVE to have y'all join us...if you can pry yourself away from a game or 2!

awesome profile, utzworld. I'm also a big New Edition fan!


I'm interested in older so-called 'Race Films' from the early 20th century. Any suggestions?

I found this link and was wondering if you might be familiar with it..if so would you recommend it?

Let's go Ls...all the way to a 3-peat!!!!!

Utz nice to read your story. Great looking family. Keep prayer alive!

I love the Laker blog family. It is as diverse as it is basketball knowledgeable. Great posts, great roll calls, great commentaries and throw in some great troll smack downs and we got the best frickin sports blog in the nation.

Utz...Utz...our pastor, our banner holder, our troll stopper. You are a treasure in the blog. What a nice smile from you, Mrs. Ilayna and your little tots. Were they in a Laker game when their picture was taken?

When you I first read your title the banner holder, I was trying to imagine what a banner holder is? because I don't see one during games compared to other Eastern teams or College football. I sincerely thought you have a broken side glass door so you have to hold the Laker flag with your hand (sic)! After reading it frequently as your handle, I finally realized it's your imprint on this blog and you want to be remembered as the banner holder. Now i read it came from Mama to Utz and the banner will be transferred to Mikayla. Not bad for the tradition, it's about time that MM should design a Blog insignia sort of our coat of arms to differentiate us from other blogs.

You mentioned Dancing Berry, that's fun huh, we all rock and shake when he's around, too bad he wanted a long term contract for his skit but Lakers went with their dancing girls instead. Septics are your hated team, who is the world would side with leprechauns & Congrats alsofor your valiant efforts in getting them rid from this blog. Count me in as your one of your fans in the blog and thank you for all the prayers you composed since '08, our prayers were answered in the last two years. Go Utz, fly high with that banner and keep on smiling brother.


Thanks for the clarification, your vote was nullified and Troy Beezy made the final verdict by using his lifeline. Anyway, you missed the fun this morning, we almost picketed LAT because of your confusing vote!!

Utz, sorry for the errors on my post, replicate the right words and eliminate the redundant pronouns.

Utzworld the Banner Holder,

I had a chance to get to know you a little on one of the chats. But now I feel I know you even better from reading your profile. Great looking family and profile. I especially enjoyed the part about Mama Banner Holder. It reminded me of my aunt who was a huge Laker fan also. Keep working on that nephew. You'll get him converted.

Now I know why you grilled me on the One of my favorite movies is, "A Soldier's Story". How did you like that one? Also a big New Edition fan as well. Don't know if you seen my post a few days ago when I said Andrew's theme for this year was NE's "Boys To Men".

I'm also a big believer in prayer. But I pray that no one get hurt (both teams). However, I certainly wouldn't begrude you or anyone else for praying differently.

Utz, glad to meet you brother. Great profile, beautiful family.

Utz - great pics! I'm made happy just lookin' at them. Those are some happy pictures.

Love putting faces to names! Good to meet you utz. You have beautiful kids!

Utz: What a great profile and a beautiful family you have! I LOL'd at the Mini Banner Holder yelling GO LAKERS at the Dodgers game! At least he has his priorities right so early :)

I gotta say though, that trip to see Pau's first game with your nephew had me rolling. Driving home he starts up again, that's the funniest thing. I'd imagine he doesn't still run his princess jimmy smack after this summer, does he? lol...

Great that you got a Dancing Barry reference in, that guy was hilarious and really got the Forum going when he'd make his appearance. That Finals game though in '85, that was the pits, one of the lowest times ever. It was looking like the Lakers were going to lose -again- to the 'Losstown Septics' - but it made the championship oh so much sweeter!

Great stories, we really have a great blog fam :)


I have stared into the face of The Banner Holder, and it is good.
So awesome to see your profile, Utzworld.
Now let's get ourselves another Championship!
What do we play for? RINGS!!!
Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

Remember, the game day prayer is far more cherished than reviled.
Don't give the haters even a moment's notice. It gives them too much.
What do we play for? RINGS!!!
Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

For some reason I think all of the bloggers here are 24 year old, skinny, Chinese American men. I think I even thought that about Justa. But Mr Utley, I pictured you with spiked black hair!

Anyways, beautiful family. You seem to have a lot going on and I wish the best with all of it.


UTZ...............Absolutly loved your profile, Your Mom and I have a lot in common with calling our son's and calling out the Ref's!! Iknow everyone of those Ref's and when we got Bennett Salvator {BS} I thought we were doomed in the playoff this year. Everybody needs some spiritual guidence and I'm proud that you are ours!! Great happy looking family too!!

Hey guys, just a heads up. Mike Bresnahan filed a item from Lakers practice not too long ago (they're eight hours ahead). Just to be on the lookout, Brez plans on filing two items a day while he's in Europe. So you'll be totally up to date on any Lakers news

Good goin' Utz.


utzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzworld THE BANNER HOLDER!!! MY BROTHER!! Good to finally meet our Chaplain in person. You're a cool looking dude, with a great looking family. One of the foundations of The Blog finally come to life!!! I LIKE IT!!! Glad things are going well with the Baby. Favorite Laker player Kobe Check, All time Laker player Magic Check, Works in Computer field Check. Damn i call you brother but with all we got in common we might as well be. Lol! Your Game Day Prayer is what cements and helps keep us a Laker Nation and I thank God for bringing you to the Nation.

Good looking, great family, intelligent, talented I guess it goes without saying...OUT FREAKIN STANDING CHAPLAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(02) TROY BEEZY - DRIVER - I second this JUSTA FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!
(08) phred = 8TH this JUSTA FOR PRESIDENT


Great profile my man...from one St. Louie boy to another...loved the family pics and stories...

Prayers are always good in my book...please do not stop your game day tradition...


Please add me on the justa for pres. bandwagon...She said if I vote for her, she will set me

Keep the prayers coming. There are plenty of us out there who still do beleive in the power of prayer!

Very nice profile Utz.
Keep the prayers coming and you have a wonderful family to keep you grounded. Good job.

Utz- Great read man! What dedication with a cheer even though you were sick! That's what separates the good fans from the great brother!


Glad to meet you sir. Fascinating profile. I feel blessed to meet you. I am rather glad that y0u value the power of prayer. Admirable.

Also, I am gratified that you mentioned New Edition. My cousin is one of its founding members. If MM deems my Profile worthy of publication, you will easily figure out which one. I'll drop you a hint, though, if you are a true NE fan, you'll figure it out. My cousin is the business mind of the group, have even once won the Executive of the Year award from some industry publication or other.

Also, causing situational amnesia in a LeBronze fan is absolutely classic!

I love it!


@utz - Playwrite? Sweet! I have a theatre in Long Beach, submit something, mang!

@FEARless: Your cuz is my favorite member of the 5! Is he still collecting residuals from Boyz II Men's first album?

UTZ - our spiritual leader and holder of the LATimes Laker blog sweet 16 championship banners!!! I don't care what anyone else says about your game day prayers.

You are inspirational and calming when all is crazy here. I love your profile and family. I can see you have a faith-filled Laker home which is awesome.

So glad to be a fb friend as well. Cheers and congrats - PLG

I'm really happy to know the background of so many inspirational posters here; particularly this time, cos I always wondered about The Banner Holder status :)

Another beautiful person and another beautiful family fulfilled with Lakers passion.
What can anyone ask for more, when you got pretty much it all?

I completely understand your memorable Lakers moment time: that celebration at the Coliseum was indeed one of the best ever days (well, mornings) of my life too, and I still missing that this year they didn't end the parade there.

But we can always do it in 2011, right?

Bless you and your purple and gold beating heart.

Respect, Z.



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