Lakers blog profile: justanothermambafan regrets not attending Kobe Bryant's 81-point performance five years ago against Toronto
This is the 25th post in a 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: justanothermambafan
Story behind your screen name: I lurked on the blog for a VERY long time before I ever started posting. Of course, most everyone on here seemed to be fans of Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba, as am I. But I also saw that everyone absolutely loved Mamba24. As a matter of fact, his energy, enthusiasm, poems, roll calls, etc was one of the main reasons I stopped lurking and started posting myself. The blog was more than just a place to get a Lakers fix. It was also a community thanks, in part, to the efforts of Mamba24. So ‘justanothermambafan’ partly represented my being a fan of his for what he does for the blog, but mainly because I’m a huge fan of the Black Mamba and what he does for the Lakers.
How I became a Lakers fan: Growing up in Canada, I was a hockey fan. I knew the teams, the players, and of course pretty much lived at the local arena in the wintertime watching my brothers play. (One of my brothers now has a son who was recently drafted out of high school to play for the N.Y. Islanders). Anyways, basketball was an occasional summer pastime for me, nothing more. Once I moved to attend the University of Toronto, other things took up space in my life and I never really followed any professional sport, although I played them all (not professionally of course)! Then when my now-hubby and I moved to California, I ended up making friends with a huge Lakers fan and started watching the games because of her.
I was hooked right away, and I couldn’t get enough! Once I found this blog (much, much later) WOW -- all bets were off. Hubby knows that when there’s a game on, the flat screen hi-def TV is MINE and the world around me ceases to exist until the final horn sounds, the fat lady sings and the post-game show is over. I watch every single minute of pre-season, regular season, post-season, interviews, reruns, classics, etc. Sometimes twice when there’s time. I’ve also developed a seething hatred of all things green. I’m a Lakerholic through and through and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel bad for my poor hubby. He’s not a fan of watching sports on TV at all. He won’t even watch more than a few minutes of the Finals with me. It’s crazy right? But he’ll go to a live sporting event with me, whether basketball or hockey, and completely enjoys himself so there’s still hope LOL! Meanwhile though, he’s a Lakers season widower.
Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-10 season: Favorite all-time memory? Too many to recount: The Kobe-Shaq alley-oop against the Jail Blazers was electrifying and got the dynasty rolling! There are no words for Kobe’s 81-point game against the Raptors, although I’ll have more on that later. Kobe’s 62 vs. the Mav’s 61 through 3 quarters will forever be an unbelievable feat. Fish’s 0.4 will always be legendary. Horry’s big shot against the Queens -– an IN YOUR FACE moment if ever there was one! So many memories ... . They are all my favorites! We are truly blessed to be Lakers fans, for so many reasons.
My favorite memory from the 2009-10 season? Of course it can only be Game 7 -– winning Sweet 16! The play of Ron Artest that game was unbelievable. I was so nervous -– especially during the 3rd quarter. I couldn’t even pace around in front of my TV like I usually do during a close game. I was stuck in my seat on my couch with my laptop, tuned into the live chat and anxiously typing in “GO LAKERS!! LET’S GO YOU GUYS!! YOU CAN DO IT!! WE GOT THIS!!” As if that would help, and all the while freaking out thinking they’d better prove me right or I was going to have a heart attack!
(Of course my BFF Rick had the vodka shots and defibrillator on stand-by). When Fish tied it up in the 4th I knew we were going to win the Larry O. I just knew it. Then Fish ties it up -– and Kobe hit a shot (finally!) -- and Ron hit that 3 and blew kisses to the crowd -– add in truly stellar defense by Pau and Lamar –- and then the final rebound by Pau out to LO out to Kobe at the far end of the court -- and I was screaming and jumping around BUT only in my head. LOL! I still couldn’t move. I was just overcome by a huge sense of relief and an unbelievable joy. I was grinning from ear to ear like an idiot. I still am, just thinking about it! I have to say, though, that a very close second to that, maybe even tied for first, has got to be Ron’s postgame interviews both on the court directly afterward and then later in front of the media. Have you ever seen such joy?? “I’d like to thank my psychiatrist.” Have you ever heard anything so hilarious??!!! It was honest and unreserved and one of the most amazing reactions I’ve ever been privileged to witness. I’ll never forget it. I was laughing and crying the entire time. Even now I can’t stop smiling while I remember it, and I feel the exact same way every time I see it replayed -- every single time. By the end of it, I found I loved Ron for his sweet, almost childlike innocence and personality and honesty, much more than I loved him for his defense!
Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: Chick’s death, and Rick Fox crying during his eulogy. Kobe’s live announcement (Vanessa at his side) following the Colorado incident, with that horrible look on his face. The 2004 loss to Detroit, and having to endure the sight of Kobe and Fish crying on the sidelines. The 2008 loss to the Celtics, and that punk Paula dumping Gatorade on Doc while still on the court before the game even ended. I can’t write any more about these memories (more like nightmares). They still hurt like I just got sucker-punched. Favorite Lakers player: Kobe is my favorite player hands down. The determination and stubborn WILL to be the best, the focus and desire to do whatever it takes to win, are qualities that you can’t help but admire. He is truly old school, and yet he goes about his business with class, style and a dash of panache! He’s amazing. He is Mozart in sneakers. He is the daVinci of the hardwood. I know when that inevitable announcement comes, when he’s hanging them up for good, it will be an extremely sad day for me. I really hope he remains with the Lakers organization in some capacity, because as far as I’m concerned he needs to remain a Laker for LIFE, not just on the court but off. I also hope it’s in the public eye as I can’t imagine not seeing that smile anymore. However, that being said, I’ve got a special place in my heart for Lamar and Ron. The Queensbridge duo. They’ve been through so much in their lives, and to see them overcome adversity the way they have makes me so very happy. A part of me is uplifted when I think about that, and I smile.
Greatest all-time Laker: Chick Hearn. Who can deny how much he’s meant to the Lakers organization? Who can estimate how many people out there became Lakers fans because of him and his ‘words-eye view’? Forever Chick -– it’s in the refrigerator and the door’s closed.
Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: I’ve never been to the Forum for a Lakers game, and I can only imagine what it must have been like back in the day. There are days when I wish I had that hot tub time machine! I’ve been to a handful of games at Staples, and it really surprised me the first time I went how much different the experience was than what I expected. I can’t explain it. When you watch professional basketball on TV, you feel that it’s a big deal -- men taking on men in battle. That somehow it’s larger than life. Then when you get there, you find that it’s really just a great big echo-y cavernous kind of place with a bunch of kids duking it out on a tiny court. LOL! Is that weird? But of course I was enthralled with every play, every layup, every dunk. I couldn’t get enough even though I was in the nosebleeds, but the experience did teach me to never sit that far away again, as it was hard to distinguish who was doing what! Later, I was able to get seats for a couple of games about 10-12 rows up from the floor –- behind the visitor’s bench both times. One game was against the Clippers (who won. Meh) and the other time was against Dallas (who also won. Double meh). These were the Smush/Kwame years, so of course hardly any celebrities were attending the games.
I did, however, see Marge Hearn being escorted to her seat, and I also saw Jack Haley hustling to get on-camera to do the pre-game show while hubby and I were hanging at the bar before the game having a little snack. I also saw Paul Sunderland and Stu Lance on the court doing their thing. Also, since we had come early to that Dallas game I mentioned earlier, I walked all the way over to the Lakers side of the court and just plopped myself down 2 rows back from the court, still on the floor. Lamar, who was alone on the court warming up, looked right at me and smiled. Of course I smiled back! I stayed to watch the rest of the guys warm up and was totally amazed at how huge they are in real life. I just don’t come across guys that big on a normal day. Does anyone? I’m surprised the ushers didn’t give me the boot, although they did the next time I tried that. But of course the next time I was carrying some memorabilia to try and get autographs, so they saw me coming from a mile away and sent me back to my seat. I was so mad.
Opposing team, player you dislike the most: Easy. 1) Anything green. 2) Anyone who refers to themselves in the third person (yes princess -- that means you). 3) And of course anyone whose initials are MJ. Of course by now you know I didn’t see Michael play in his day. So then why the hate you ask? Well let me tell you a story about that. But I can't write it all here. But that story caused me to REALLY hate him. Still do, and even more so since that now-infamous Hall Of Fame speech. I’d love to give him a wedgie with his own freaking Fruit of the Looms. Punk.
Interactions with Lakers players: Well, the Lamar smile moment counts, right? Also, a few years back I got in line at a new Circuit City that was opening across the street from my house. The main attraction was going to be Big Game James Worthy! Hubby wouldn’t come due to lack of interest on his part (unbelievable I know) so I had to stand in that stupid line alone, with my neighbor and his little kid. The neighbor was too busy drinking to watch his kid, but not too busy to try and chat me up. Eww. I finally get to the front and to my dismay no Big Game James. However, A.C. Green was there and was so very nice to me and everyone else too. He signed my hubby’s throwback warm-up that I had brought along (a gift I had got him -- Minny blue) and a Lakers basketball for me. (After I got what I came for I couldn’t wait to get home and shower –- stupid neighbor LOL)!
Another time hubby and I were in Vancouver, Canada, a while back working on our visas. We’re from Canada and this was before we became U.S. citizens. Anyways, we were walking down some random street, just hanging out and doing a little sight-seeing, and who comes lumbering in our direction but Wilt Chamberlain. WILT FREAKING CHAMBERLAIN. Yup. And he recognized hubby because they had previously met at a bar in Toronto (The Copa) and had got to chatting. (I have a picture of them together at that bar. Hubby, who is 6-foot-1, looked like a little kid beside him. It’s hilarious!) Anyways he was very nice, and as I said he stopped to chat for a bit, although I have no idea what he said. I was in awe. He was HUGE. I mean -– VAN huge! When he shook my hand, my entire forearm almost disappeared from view. I was a total geek.
Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have: I have the signed A.C. Green warm-up and basketball. Of course I’ve got assorted Lakers gear, plus my Chick Hearn, Kobe Bryant and Shaq jerseys, but nothing I especially cherish. I really need to get some good stuff -- help me out people!
Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: OK, you’re gonna die. No really -– DIE. Of course you remember Kobe’s 81-point game, right? Who doesn’t? I mean it was historic, so of course y’all remember it. Well –- that particular day I really wanted to go to the game because I hadn’t been in a very long time. I had gotten a bonus from work, so I had the money to get some pretty decent seats for me and hubby, and we even had the time as neither of us had to work. So I’m online looking for the best seats I can find, and I find a couple about 10-12 rows up right where I like to sit. They were perfect! And you guys know those seats -– close enough to see the sweat but not close enough to get hit by any of it. Excellent!
Anyways, I’m looking at the price, and looking at the stack of bills on my desk, and looking back at the price and so I start thinking to myself: It’s the Raptors. They’re terrible. The Lakers are going to win. It’s just regular season. I can see the game better on TV. I won’t have to fight traffic. I won’t get home late. I’ll be more comfortable at home. I won’t be tired tomorrow. I’ll be able to watch all the replays, AND I’ll be able to pay off a couple of bills. So yeah, I decide not to go. And Kobe goes off for an historic performance that will never be repeated in this era of modern basketball -– and I get a couple of freaking bills paid. I throw up in my mouth every time I think about it. I’m still pissed off too. Can you tell? ARGH.
And so there you have it. My name is Marina AKA justanothermambafan, and I’m a very proud Lakerholic. I’m just as proud to be a member in good standing of the LAT Lakers Blog –- the best blog in the world thanks to MM giving us our regular fix! We have such an amazing, diverse community here, and it’s truly a pleasure to be associated with all of you. (Well, most of y’all, trolls excluded of course). I can honestly say that it’s much more fun hanging with you and watching a game than I ever thought possible. Thank you all, for making my Lakers experience that much more enjoyable, and my life that much richer. Special thanks to phred (my editor), wes, LakerLass and 63 -– and the other main-stays of the renegade chat. As phred says, it’s all about the love.
-- Mark Medina
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Photos, from top: Kobe Bryant stands on the scorers' table at Staples Center after the Lakers defeated the Celtics to win the 2010 NBA title last June; from middle: Bryant stares down the Golden State crowd after hitting a three-pointer in the final minutes Wednesday in Oakland; from end: justanothermambafan features a mug shot of a "Silly LeBron, Rings are for Kobe" T-Shirt as her avatar during Lakers game chats. Credits: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; John G. Mabanglo / European Pressphoto Agency; justanothermambafan