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NBA Lockout: Things to do during the work stoppage

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Barely a week has gone by for NBA fans who have been left twiddling their thumbs wondering if there's going to be a 2011-2012 season.

Aside from the exercise becoming quickly monotonous, basketball fans should expect that nothing will happen for a fairly significant time. The Times' Mark Heisler recently noted there's not going to be much urgency to reach a new collective bargaining agreement until the NFL lockout ends and the work stoppage ultimately affects the schedule and paychecks. So there are things fans can do to pass the time, hopefully not at the expense of suddenly becoming disinterested in the NBA. The ideas go beyond just finally going on vacation and not worrying about the upcoming season. 

The ideas below the jump will help you keep your basketball fix while providing some distraction toward what might be a long lockout.

1. Watch old Lakers games. Stop worrying about how Mike Brown will fare as the Lakers' head coach. Stop fretting over what roster changes the Lakers need to make to return to another NBA championship. And stop lamenting a disappointing 2010-2011 season. 

Why relive the disappointment when it's easy to relive the Lakers' 16 NBA championships? Whether it's rewatching the Lakers defeat the Celtics in the NBA Finals in 2010, 1987 or 1985, watching the Lakers' three-peat from 2000 to 2002, or seeing the Lakers get their first championship in Los Angeles in 1972, there are plenty of options. 

2. Follow the European Championships. This tournament won't exactly fight your hoops addiction until later this summer, but it'd at least prevent you from tearing your hair out should the work stoppage last through September and delay training camp. The tournament takes place from Aug. 31 to Sept. 18 in Lithuania, and there's one huge reason why Laker fans want to pay attention to it. After a disappointing performance in the 2010 playoffs, Lakers forward Pau Gasol has decided to play for his native Spain, partly to help him bounce back. 

3. Attend the Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame. In what has been long overdue, Tex Winter, a key architect of the triangle offense and mentor to former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 12. 

4. Check out Ron Artest's comedy tour. OK, so Artest's antics aren't as well received as last summer. That's when he was riding a wave of popularity from his Game 7 heroics against Boston. Still, the man knows how to make people laugh. That's why there's the Ron Artest Ultimate Comedy Tour, which currently has four shows booked at the Improv in Hollywood July 8-9, four more shows at Caroline’s on Broadway in New York July 15-16, and then comes back to Southern California in Brea for two shows on July 29 and 30. Something tells me that Artest won't have trouble keeping himself busy in the off-season.

5. Attend a Drew league game. The coolest part about attending these games every Saturday and Sunday afternoon: They're free, nearby (Washington Park in South L.A.) and have actually featured legit NBA ballers, including some of the Lakers. The problem with attending these games: getting a decent seat and guessing correctly which players will actually show up. I have a feeling more players, particularly ones from L.A., will compete in this league to stay in shape as the lockout continues. But it's hard to predict when it's best to hop over there for a game. 

Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan and Michael Beasley have played there, and several Lakers have attended, including Artest, Shannon Brown and Steve Blake. And it's a sight to see how much presence the rapper Game has in the area. It's the best basketball money can buy, which unlike Laker games, costs absolutely nothing. 

6. Visit the Lakers statues. OK, it might not be the best idea to try to "plank" Jerry West's statue like one fan did. After all, only so many fans can pull off that amazing feat. But driving down to Staples Center to visit the West, Magic Johnson and Chick Hearn statues during a lockout-laden summer would give fans the best chance to spend as much time posing with the statues without worrying if other Laker fans are waiting for you to get the perfect shot.

7. Watch the Sparks play at Staples Center. Since you'll already be there at Staples Center visiting the Lakers statues, you'd only have to spend $8 to watch a Sparks game. It's nowhere near the same atmosphere as a Lakers game. The Lakers have a Hollywood/Broadway feel while the Sparks only spark  memories of daycare. But it'd at least allow you to check out the Lakers' championship banners and retired jerseys hanging in the rafters. 

RELATED:

Pau Gasol wants to play for Spain in European Championship

Tex Winter to be inducted into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

NBA lockout: Fan 'planks' Jerry West statue outside Staples Center

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

 
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