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Category: Lakers blog profile

Lakers blog profile: Wes Joe Nixon has an uncomfortable interaction with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

WesnewyorkThis is the 19th 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 mgmedin@gmail.com.

Screen name: Wes Joe Nixon

Real name: Well, that's debatable. I was born Wes Nixon but when I reached the ripe old age of 5 my mother let my brother and I choose any middle name we deemed proper. My older brother took the easy way out by choosing the family name "Wayne," while I took the more rugged path and became Wes "GI Joe" Nixon, or, Wes Joe Nixon. On a side note, I was almost named Chad, and I thank the heavens every day that I wasn't, because when it's all said and done, who really wants to be a white guy named Chad?

Occupation: Again, this is debatable. I write male-centric articles for a local Indiana wedding magazine called "Veils and Vows," I teach writing and math to adults three days a week, and I'm in the final stages of opening "The Beautiful Bagel," a small bagel outfit that specializes in authentic 19th century N.Y. and Montreal style bagels. Mmmm.

Age: 41

Gender: Male

Hometown: I'm a Valley dude, 100%. San Fernando to be specific. That was me in the early '80s on the bus heading to either Zuma beach or the Sherman Oaks Galleria. And I wouldn't trade a childhood in the SF Valley in the early '80s for anything on Earth. Not only was the world your oyster, but that oyster was available to explore 12 months a year, unlike Northern Indiana, where God closes up shop from November through February.

Story behind your screen name: See above paragraph. Though I will add that I was named after the Los Angeles Dodgers' first baseman of old, Wes Parker.

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Lakers blog profile: 5LakerFanz played a game of football with Ron Artest

Image003This is the 18th 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 mgmedin@gmail.com.

Screen name: 5LakerFanz

Real name: Alex Ochoa

Occupation: Deputy registrar, county of Orange

Age: 33

Gender: Male

Hometown: Buena Park

Story behind your screen name: I have to represent for my whole family, there are five of us. My wife, our three kids and myself -- we're all proud Laker fans! Believe it or not, our dog's name is Kobe. We also had a cat at one time, named Shaq, and they used to always fight (go figure), but we got rid of Shaq (sorry, buddy). So as you can you can see by our plates, we truly are 5LakerFanz.

How I became a Lakers fan: I became a Lakers fan back in 1987-88 after watching them win it all…I was 11 years old and loved watching Magic Johnson play basketball. I was so fascinated by how smooth he was and all his trickery. I wanted to play just like him! Ha, ha, never happened. I admired how he was a great leader and was so competitive and wanted to win every time. I also have to give it up to James Worthy aka Big Game James, the man was also unstoppable. And everyone knew that when he extended his arm out while holding the ball in one hand, it was over! That famous finger roll of his was sweeeeet. And I can't forget the "cap" with the sky hook. Who was going to block that? No one! Then when you throw in "Showtime" and the late Chick Hearn's famous quotes -- there's no way that I wasn’t going to be a Lakers fan.

Favorite Lakers memory of the 2009-10 season: It would have to be watching Ron Artest on national TV thanking his psychiatrist; it just showed how happy and thankful he was to finally win a ring. And you can't forget the news conference after -- awesome! And I can't forget all the KB24 clutch shots! I've never seen so many in one season; he’s a beast. I'm just glad he's wearing the purple and gold!

Favorite Lakers memory of all time: I have many favorites, but hands down, it has to be when Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors! He put on a show for the fans, and I would have loved to have been there. Now that is just unheard of -- he's second on the list, behind Wilt Chamberlain. I also can't forget the Kobe alley oop to Shaq against the Trail Blazers to take over Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals. I really thought that game was over after being down 15 points! I never thought we'd make a comeback and win that game, but then again when we had Shaq & Kobe. We're unstoppable!

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Lakers blog profile: Showtime era fueled Cap's Goggles' fanaticism for the Lakers

36429128This is the 17th 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 mgmedin@gmail.com.

Screen name: Cap's Goggles

Real name: Felix Medina (no relation to FCM, unless his family is from Zacatecas, Mexico ...)

Occupation: Currently fun-employed

Age: 27

Gender: Male

Hometown: East Los Angeles

Story behind your screen name: My earliest memory of the Lakers was the '88 Finals and seeing Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] running down the court. I asked my uncle who he was and what those things covering his eyes were. He told me that that was Cap and those things on his head were his goggles. When I started posting on this blog, I immediately thought of that moment and there you go: Cap's Goggles

How I became a Lakers fan: I could say I've been a Lakers fan from birth but, of course, that wouldn't be true. I guess I really became a Lakers fanatic during those '88 Finals. It was my first real exposure to Showtime basketball and the emotion of the game that I would grow to love more than any other. The sight of my uncle jumping up and down and screaming his butt off at the screen as Kareem sank those free throws in Game 6 to force Game 7 and then chewing his nails off and celebrating like a madman as the Lakers won by three in Game 7 after James Worthy scored 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists to win the Finals MVP was something to behold and will always live in my memory. In terms of first impressions, that series cemented the love a 4-year-old kid from East L.A. would have for the Los Angeles Lakers as he grew up, and it's a love that, through thick and thin, has truly paid dividends.

Cap's Goggles

Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-2010 season: "It has to be when [Robert] Horry hit that shot in Game 4 of the 2002 WCF. I was attending UCSB, and I had to deal with the whole Nor Cal vs. So Cal rivalry that was hitting a fever pitch as the series moved along. I had gone home to L.A. for the weekend in order to attend Game 2 at Staples Center (when they showed the game on the big screen, because it was at Arco) and had to witness a whole weekend of the Lakers getting their butts whooped by the Queens. I would be going home that Sunday evening and I figured I would watch Game 4 before heading to Union Station to take the Amtrak back to UCSB. Lo and behold, I could not believe my eyes that first half, as Sacramento put the beat-down on my team. It was as if someone was pulling the hairs out of my head starting with my sideburns and all I could do was sit there and take it. The second half, as we Lakers fans know, was pure magic.

When Horry made that shot, I was in a state of pure delirium. I screamed at the top of my lungs as the whole neighborhood erupted in whistles, cheers, exploding M-80s (or what i thought were M-80s), honking car horns and complete strangers running out and hugging each other screaming "HORRY! HORRY! HORRY!" I ran outside, got in the car and went cruising down Whittier Boulevard, honking the horn and waving my Lakers flag for what seemed like hours. Later that evening, when I made it back to my apartment in Goleta, all I could do was tease my roommate from Nor Cal and enjoy his frustration with a Cheshire cat grin. I lost my voice for two days because of that shot. It still sends shivers down my spine every time to see that reaction from the fans in those YouTube clips.

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Lakers blog profile: MFont681 constructs a photo illustration of James Worthy

James Worthy This is the 16th 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 mgmedin@gmail.com.

Screen name: MFont681

Occupation: Freelance Artist and Designer (Mauricefontenot.com)

Age: 41

Gender: Male

Hometown: Altadena (Now living in Brooklyn, N.Y.)

How I became a Lakers fan: Growing up in Southern California, pretty much everyone was Lakers fan! But I would say my family and especially my dad. Rooting for the Lakers gave us common ground. I started watching in 1982 and was obsessed by 1984, which didn’t end well with the Celtics beating them in seven.

Favorite Lakers memory of all time: 1985 when the Lakers finally beat the Celtics. Game 6 was on a Sunday morning and I remember being in my robe and sitting on my floor stressed out the whole game and then in pure elation when they won. I was so sick of hearing how the Lakers never beat the Celtics, so it was nice to shut the world up. Beating Portland in 2000 and Sacramento in 2002 stick out as great moments as well.

Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: I was such a crazy Lakers fan that EVERY loss was heartbreaking, but the worst was 1986. When Ralph Sampson hit that shot in Game 5, I just turned off the lights and TV in my bedroom and laid in the dark. To this day, I still can’t believe that team beat them. Off the court, I would say it was the day Magic announced he had HIV. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried my eyes out. I really seemed like a death sentence back then, but now it looks like Magic is healthier than most guys his age!

Favorite Lakers player: James Worthy. He never got the credit for what he brought to the team. Magic and Kareem got most of the praise, and rightly so, but they wouldn’t have won anything without Worthy. I love how he would just go out and do his job without the fanfare and headlines. When you see Worthy highlights they usually show him dunking a pass from Magic, but he had one of the greatest post-up games of all time! He was so fast that he would leave defenders flat-footed as he spun around them.

Greatest all-time Laker: Magic wasn’t my favorite Laker, but in my mind he’s the greatest and most important Laker in history. And a big shout out to Chick Hearn. In the early 80s most of the home games were not televised, so Chick’s words-eye-view brought the games to life on the radio and taught me a lot about the ins and outs of the game. When a game was on CBS, I would turn the sound down and listen to Chick.

Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: Since I live in NY, I don’t get many chances to go to Staples. The last game I saw was eight or nine years ago vs. Toronto, when Vince Carter was still playing for them. I saw a handful of games at the Forum, my most memorable being a Lakers/Bulls preseason game in 1985 when I slipped on the stairs and broke my leg!

Opposing team, player you dislike the most: Pretty much any Celtic ... take your pick.

Interactions with Lakers players: I was in Vegas a few years back and saw Robert Horry. I walked up to him, shook his hand and said, “Thank you.” He knew exactly what I was talking about and so do all Laker fans.

Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: As I mentioned before, I was an obsessed Lakers fan in my younger days. My life revolved around them: If they won I was happy; if they lost I was miserable. I recall standing in my home during every national anthem for a few weeks because I thought it would bring the Lakers good luck!

-- Mark Medina
twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: MFont681 is a freelance artist and designer and recently constructed this photo illustration of former Lakers forward James Worthy. Credit: Courtesy of MFont681.

Lakers blog profile: Otis went from rooting for the Celtics to being a loyal Lakers fan

IMG_0965_2_2This is the 15th 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 mgmedin@gmail.com.

Screen name: Otis

Real name: Paul Hefti

Occupation: Musician

Age: 57

Gender: Male

Hometown: NYC

Story behind your screen name: Original name was Paulie, I discovered this blog around 2007, mostly because of the uproar created by Kobe Bryant getting really, really tired of losing with the Lakers team at that time. I was mostly disappointed with the Lakers trading Shaquille O'Neal and getting rather disgruntled at Kobe for his public disrespect of the Lakers organization. So I registered for the blog under the name of Paulie and proceeded to voice my inconsequential opinion, which was pro-Lakers and very anti-Kobe. I believe I suggested that the Lakers should allow Kobe to leave via free agency -- that it would serve Kobe right to leave the beauty of Southern California for some other NBA city where oppressive heat and bugs were the major contributors to local lifestyle.

After that post, one of the well-respected posters said something to the effect of, "Sheriff, should I do it or should you?" Next post was from Taliq (Segeboy), sheriff of the blog. Taliq had a way of hip-hopping and street-talking his way to libelous destruction of an individual if he so pleased, and he did me very heavy -- likening me to Otis Campbell -- stumbling drunk and in jail via self-arrest. I posted a complaint that I had not used such language to put my point across and that the sheriff's response was rather shocking, and Dave m soothed the situation with a post stating that I had a right to my polite opinion and that he thought that I was being a little mistreated, but what did I expect from slamming Kobe? Well -- to turn a defeat into a new life, I thought the sheriff's recommended name was a good one and I made the change to Otis. I've been drunk and in jail ever since, and quite happy to be there.

How I became a Lakers fan: Life as a Los Angeles basketball fan began for me in 1965 via John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins. My mother and her large family were from Beantown, and with the New York Knicks rather non-notable, I had become a Celtics fan. I liked winners, and they won every year -- like the Yankees. Following the Celtics, Yankees and Bruins seemed a natural thing to do. My favorite player on that Bruin title team, Gail Goodrich, was drafted by the Lakers. By then I had moved to L.A. and the Lakers really got a hold of me. They were so clean, pretty, sunshiny -- all things L.A. -- and I was hooked. Getting beaten by the Celtics really started to kill me -- my Boston family never forgave me.

Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-10 season: All-time: beating the Celtics in '85. Game 6 in the Garden was tight, and the Boston press had predicted a Lakers fall similar to the one suffered the year before. The Lakers had a lead late, but not enough to stop biting my nails. With under a minute to go, someone threw a lob to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and he slammed it home -- Kareem became visibly animated, shaking his fist, slapping teammates, all with a big thankful smile on his usually stoic face. The Celtics hold on the Lakers had been broken -- in front of the Boston fans. The best!

Last season: Any real Lakers fan has one great moment per year possible -- and that would be to defeat the Celtics for the NBA title. I had just moved into a new home during the Phoenix series and could not get my satellite installed in time for the title series -- though my friends invited me to out to watch (and my great buddy Christy took me to Game 2 -- a regrettable choice), I had so much to do in the house that I decided Spero Dedes would take me through to the end. With 50 seconds left in Game 7 I dialed up my friend David and together we held on until the final buzzer sounded. So fine, so fine. Case closed.

Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: Magic Johnson retiring and Shaq getting traded -- in that order. Magic retiring is one of those days where if you were asked where you were when it happened, you'd know. I was starting the school year at UC Santa Barbara and was driving home at about 2 p.m. when the regular radio was suspended for the live announcement. Yes, I thought that he was going to die. Shaq was a favorite of mine (as everyone on the blog probably knows by now) and I was on pins and needles during his free-agency decision to come to the Lakers. When all the moves that Jerry Buss made panned out and he was ours, my next decade was set. He took us up, up, up, and then the lob from Kobe and the dunk on the Portland Trailblazers brought all of us to the pinnacle, once again. He promised, he delivered -- and then he was gone. This was a divorce in every way, shape, and form. Broke my heart. Still does.

Favorite Lakers player: Magic Johnson

Greatest all-time Laker: Magic Johnson

Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: Staples: Game 2 of the 2010 Championships. I must add that my son and I were at the Robert Horry shot game against the Queens. Indescribable is how I'd describe that moment. I was jumping up and down and then I was pushed by a wave of people falling down the upper deck -- I ended up three rows lower then I began, and I'm lucky to have not been hurt.

Forum: With my son in early '99. Can't remember anything about the game. An old forum memory was going to the parking lot after the 1982 title to see Coach Pat Riley and the players at a podium saying hi and thanking us for being there -- about 1,000 people showed up.

Opposing team, player you dislike the most: Bill Laimbeer -- everybody knows why.

Interactions with Lakers players: Shook James Worthy's hand -- mine disappeared into his. Slapped Wilt Chamberlain on his back as he walked off the Fabulous Forum floor at the final game of the 1972 regular season.

Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have: Piece of the Forum floor, signed by Jerry West. I used to go to the Great Western Shootout every year and see all four games -- tickets were easy to get and it was the only time I could sit in the lower deck without selling a guitar or two. Between games, I noticed that squares of the old floor (which had just been replaced) were being sold in the concessions area. This rather large chunk of yellow paint was priced at $60 -- it's mine now, and it comes out during Lakers title series.

Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: While living in Santa Barbara, my good friend was a stat keeper for the Lakers and would give two tickets to the guy who would drive him from Santa Barbara to the game and back. This included access to the press lounge before the game, at the half, and afterward. Man, I'll tell you -- hanging in that press lounge was the real deal. A buffet was available before the game -- usually fried chicken and all the fixings -- and beer/wine at the half and after the game. All the press regulars were there, coaches for both teams, owners -- no celebs, though -- I think they hung at the Forum club. Chick Hearn's wife, Marge, was always in before the game to dig into some chicken. Dan guarded the door to the lounge and turned away many, many folks in his day. In the midst of refusing entry to a large crowd, he saw me, busted out in a wide smile, and said, "Hey, come on in." Beautiful, baby.

In the press lounge, the superstars were Pat Riley and Dr. Buss. When these men entered, it was nuclear fission complete with bulbs flashing and the accompanying personal entourage. All heads turned to see what these kings were up to. Dr. Jerry once arrived with about 10 women - well, let's call them Playboy bunny types -- absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. He stayed for about 15 minutes answering press questions and saying hi to everyone and then left with one of the ladies, leaving the rest in the lounge. The buddy I brought along and I were holding up the wall, sipping Millers and watching the delightful sight created by the presence of those beauties -- we'd glance at each other every now and then and sort of acknowledge how silly good we had it. That was 1988 -- we were champions and won the title again that year.

-- Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Paul Hefti. Credit: Handout

Lakers blog profile: Mamba24 shares his admiration for Kobe Bryant

This is the 14th 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 mgmedin@gmail.com.

Screen Name: Mamba24

Story behind your Screen Name: I started out as 8ON8. The first 8 represents Kobe’s number, the second 8 represented infinity. I posted very infrequently using that name. When I started posting more frequently, I changed my name several times because none of the names I picked seemed to resonate with me. Finally one of the bloggers told me, since you like Kobe why don’t you use his nickname “Black Mamba”. I liked that idea and so took it and added Kobe’s number - which was 8 at the time - to the Black Mamba name. I posted for about two weeks as BlackMamba8 and then shortened it to Mamba8. When Kobe changed his number to 24, I changed my name to mamba24 and that is what it has been since. Now, I even prefer it to my real name. My youngest daughter always calls me that when she wants something: “Come on Mamba24 don’t be like that, that’s bogus!” Yeah right baby girl!

How I became a Lakers Fan: My Uncle was what we called a Gypsy Barber. He didn’t have a barbershop, but his clients made appointments and he went to them. He used to take me on some his jobs and I met a lot of interesting people and heard a lot of interesting things. Anyway, I guess he took me with him to try to be the Father figure in my life, because my dad was away a lot for his job. One of my uncle’s clients was the late former basketball player, Norm Van Lier. As we were coming to Van Lier’s house who should be coming out but Jamaal Wilkes.

The Lakers had just won the title and what he was doing at Norm’s I have no idea. Any way Van Lier introduced him to me and my Uncle and he was just like his name smooth as Silk. I forgot to ask him for an autograph until he was in his car, then I asked but he said he had to go but he’d get something to me. I thought “Sure” but he had been so cool I wasn’t mad. I had forgotten all about the promise, when about a month later a package arrived from him. I guess he got our address from Norm. In the package were two autographed wrist bands and an autographed Official Lakers Schedule. From that moment, I was instantly a Lakers fan. The sad part is instead of putting the wrist bands in plastic and saving them, I wore them, like an idiot when I played Ball until the autographs wore off and they were just rags. Stupid huh? I saved the schedule. Yeah I saved it so good even I don’t know where it is.

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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 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.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

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

Lakers blog profile: CyberCosmiX has plenty of Laker stories to share

CyberCosmiX_1This is the 12th 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 mgmedin@gmail.com.

Screen name: CyberCosmiX

Occupation: Self-employed, although not doing much more at the moment outside of working on a fixer-upper and being a stay-at-home dad since the wife works afternoon/evenings.

Age: 42

Gender: Male

Hometown: Apple Valley

Story behind your screen name: I've used the name CyberCosmiX since about the mid-'90s when I incorporated that name to use for business. Specifically, I had owned and operated a comic book store for five years previously, and originally wanted to use the name Cosmic Comics, but that name was taken as a .com. So just played around with the name to come up with this one; it was also suited the Web work I was doing at that time. Definitely too much info... :)

How I became a Lakers fan: I started out collecting basketball cards around 1975 when I was 7 years old. Most kids around Torrance at that time collected baseball or football cards, but basketball cards were more intriguing to me. One of the guys my older sister was dating at the time gave me an old shoebox full of them, so I was able to at least see the legendary players this way, Wilt, Russell, West, Baylor, etc... I always loved the sport itself but didn't know much about it besides the Harlem Globetrotters. I don't remember ever watching even a single televised pro game during my early youth, I'd just look at the standings of the different teams every so often in the L.A. Times. Ironically, I do remember watching Chick Hearn on "Bowling For Dollars" without even knowing who he was at the time. My favorite player was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but I wasn't necessarily a real big Laker fan, mostly since they weren't a great team during the mid-'70s and I liked to pick favorite sports teams at that time based on their mascots or logos, lol.

My first "favorite" team was the Knicks simply because I had more of their basketball cards than other teams. Crazy, I know. In '78 my mom and I flew out to Seattle to visit an aunt and she bought me a yellow and green Supersonics T-shirt, so I rooted for Seattle for about a year. When the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson, I quickly returned to being a Laker fan, staying one ever since (and forever more). It was also around that time that I started listening to Chick call Laker games; I recall many a night falling to sleep to Chick's voice.

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Lakers blog profile: Don't Blame Del Harris has a fondness for the former Lakers coach

30790587This is the 11th 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 mgmedin@gmail.com.

Screen name: Don't Blame Del Harris!

Occupation: Government Puppet

Age: 35

Gender: M

Hometown: Inland Empire

Story behind your screen name: It's not his fault! Nah, but I really enjoyed the Lake Show years. After Magic left in 1991, I refused to join the Chicago bandwagon (a la the Cowboys or 49ers in the NFL with their fair-weather-fans) and stuck it out during the lean years (phase one). Dunleavy had jumped ship. Randy Pfund was no Pfun. Worthy retired. Byron went to the Pacers, I believe. A.C. Green went to PHX, I think. Perkins went to Seattle for Benoit Benjamin and Doug Christie. Sedale was the starting point guard. We missed the playoffs in 1993, after just barely making it in 1992. Then we drafted Eddie Jones out of Temple. Campbell started playing better. Nick was Nick. Peeler was bombing away. Ceballos was getting 20 and 10 the hard way. And Del Harris took a rookie phenom, a young beast in the paint, along with the other youngsters, and won 50+ games for a few years. This is my tribute to Del. He's no Phil, but he ain't bad.

How I became a Lakers fan: Kevin Johnson and his Phoenix Suns only cemented my resolve as a new Lakers fan. 1991 was fun because we had a young Elden Campbell out of Clemson, and a Flopper Deluxe in Vlade. I am a Lakerholic. YES!

Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-2010 season:* All-time (a) - Watching Magic play LIVE in 1990.... I received some Lakers tickets for Christmas. It was a Clippers game, truthfully, but it was a game against the Lakers nonetheless. Magic even made a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter. I wore every piece of Lakers clothing I owned. At 15 years old, that wasn’t much! *All-time (b) - Nick Van Exel's buzzer-beating, game-winning, crowd-hushing, Garden-closing, 3-pointer in the Lakers' last game in the old Boston Garden. Nick at Nite issued his classic “SHHHH!” index-finger-over-lips move to the stunned crowd and by doing so, created an image that still makes me smile to this day.

*'09-'10 season: Ron's game-winner. Last time I shouted so loud was the 0.4 shot. I lost my voice for two days after each of those memorable events. Ron-Ron’s rebound from nowhere and game-winner prompted me to nearly blow out my knees from jumping up and down. I just shouted, “Ron Artest! Ron Artest! Ron Artest!” for about two minutes straight. My neighbor across the street asked my wife the next day, “Who exactly is Ron Artest?”

Most heartbreaking Lakers experience:* Magic retiring in 1991. He had become my favorite athlete; quite unusual for me because I was so terrible at sports. Something he did just pulled me in. Magic was always a joy to watch. *Ralph Sampson in 1986 -- 'nuff said. *The Double Hamstring Mambo in the '89 Finals. *2004 and 2008 Finals losses to old enemies. Bitter indeed! *Chick.

Favorite Lakers player: Kobe. His body of work is more than I ever thought we as Lakers fans would ever get to witness since the days of Magic, the first MJ! Kobe may be polarizing to the general public, but his accomplishments and abilities cannot be ignored. He will be considered one of the best ever when his playing days are over. The scary thing is that he's not done yet.

Greatest all-time Laker: Magic. He saved the NBA (w/Bird), ushered in the new generation, and captivated his audience with an unabashed style and flair that has yet to be matched. Imagine what could've been if he had not been stricken ill.... What a ride it was, though! Try to watch the 1992 NBA All-Star Game online someday. Magic made that game his personal statement to his family, his friends, his teammates, his opponents, his audience, and his illness that he would never be defeated. Priceless. The 3-pointers over Isiah Thomas and Mike were storybook endings in a time when the fans needed one.

Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: Staples Center, 2006. My wife had surprised me with a tickets to the Jazz/Lakers game in January for Christmas that year. I would finally get to see Kobe in person! Alas, it was not to be. Kobe was suspended for that Jazz/Lakers game after elbowing Mike Miller in the throat a few nights before. Forum, 1994. I was lucky enough to see a rookie named Eddie Jones, a young Nick Van Exel, and “Run TMC” during a game against Golden State. A lot of running, gunning and grinning that night.

Opposing team, player you dislike the most:I cannot stand the Celtics. PP, KG, every one of them is constantly on my list of potential Kobe victims. And LeBronze. I can’t wait for the Miami Cheats to flame out. Hopefully, the Lakers will be the team that puts their fire out.

Interactions with Lakers players: James Worthy autograph session @ Circuit City Monrovia; Luke Walton autograph session @ Upper Deck Store Huntington Beach; John Salley @ Sea World San Diego (meh); Kobe, Sasha, Pau, Trevor, and Luke @ Fiesta Lakers 2009

Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have:Kobe #8 UDA autographed home 2002 Finals jersey with Sept. 11th patch, Magic Johnson-signed basketball circa 1990, and a James Worthy Starting Lineup figure I purchased at Toys R Us way back when.

Memorable stories about being a Lakers fan: Attending the 2000 Championship parade and rally, and living to tell about it. We left just before things got hairy. And watching the 2002 WCF, Game 7: After we won, I ran outside and started screaming. As I looked over my left shoulder, I saw my neighbor doing the same thing. We stared at each other for a second, silent and awkward. Then we high-fived each other and began to scream again. My wife still doesn't get it to this day. Also, watching the last game of the 2004 season when Kobe hit the game-tying, last-second three-pointer in Portland, then the subsequent game-winning three-pointer at the very end of overtime to secure the Pacific Division crown over Sacramento. That dude flexed so hard on those fools! My last memory is a continuous one: the blog crew! Thanks, everybody! Title heaven in 2011!

--Mark Medina

mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Don't Blame Del Harris argues that Harris got too much criticism when he was the Lakers' head coach in the mid-1990s. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Lakers blog profile: Puddle made Jerry West laugh

Puddle 2

This is the tenth 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 mgmedin@gmail.com.

Screen name: puddle

Real name: Phil

Age: 26

Gender: M

Hometown: Woodland Hills

Story behind your screen name: My initials are PDL, which if spoken as a word sounds like “puddle”. I’ve very jealous of my brother, whose initials GSL sound like “Gasol”, or even my dad, whose initials WFL sound like “waffle”. Mmmm, waffles.

How I became a Lakers fan: I became a basketball fan when I started playing in 3rd grade (1993). I became an NBA fan when I watched Dream Team II (yeah, I missed out on the REAL Dream Team), a team that had Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson – two Charlotte Hornets players. I loved those guys so much I even wanted a hi-top fade like ‘Zo had, despite the fact that my hair is blond and wavy. So even though I liked the Lakers, I became a huge Hornets fan. In 1995, however, Charlotte traded Alonzo to Miami and I cried. That day I vowed to never root for the Hornets again (I eventually tore down my Charlotte Hornets wallpaper in my room) and began to root SOLELY for my hometown Lakers. The Hornets, to me, were kind of like the first serious girlfriend you have – you know, the one you loved but who broke your heart but ultimately made you a wiser better man. The Lakers are like the soul-mate.

Favorite Lakers memory of all time and of the 2009-2010 season: Favorite Lakers memory of all time is when Kobe lobbed that alley-oop to Shaq to cap the Lakers Game 7 comeback vs. the Blazers in 2000. I always pace around during Lakers games – especially in the playoffs – and in this game, I was a complete madman. If I remember right, the Lakers were down 16 at the end of the 3rd quarter, when Brian Shaw banked in a 3. For some reason, I just knew they were going to come back. When Kobe connected with Shaq on that alley-oop, I ran around outside screaming and jumping around like a crazy person. I’ve never experienced such an emotional high from any other Laker moment. (Sidenote: Does anyone remember how spectacular Kobe was in that game? How about 25 points, 11 rebs, 7 ast, 4 blk?) My favorite memory of this last season was definitely Ron Artest’s interview after Game 7. His joy bordered on delirium. I could relate.

Most heartbreaking Lakers experience: It may sound weird, but when Kobe was charged with sexual assault, it was not just the shock and disappointment of that incident but the dismay that I couldn't enjoy that the Lakers just signed Malone and Payton. I was so excited about that season just days earlier, and to go from so high to so low felt like a punch to the groin.

Puddle 1

Favorite Lakers player: This is a tough one. Of course I love Kobe. But I end up really liking players who are great, genuine, down-to-earth people who know their roles, do it to the best of their ability, and make great contributions to winning Laker teams. Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher are my favorite Lakers currently. Over the years I’ve loved Brian Shaw, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Trevor Ariza (I was pretty bummed to see him go), and Ron Harper. Ron Artest is really growing on me, and I think I’ll really love Steve Blake.

Greatest all-time Laker: Magic. No question. I'm just sad I didn't get to see him live until his brief return in ’95-’96, when he, of course, just wasn't the same. But I’ve watched probably 50 or so Laker games from the 80s, and I’m truly amazed by the things he could do. Last time you went to a game at Staples Center and at the Forum: Forum? Lakers vs. Hornets in 1995. Staples Center? Game 2, 2010 Playoffs, First Round vs. OKC. I go to 4 or 5 Laker games per year, but as an LA Kings season ticket holder, I’m at Staples all the time.

Opposing team, player you dislike the most: Boston Celtics. Paul Pierce. Everything about Pierce annoys me, from his flopping and flailing, to his doughy physique, to his perpetually whiny face, to his irritating disrespect for the Lakers, to his ridiculously over-inflated ego.

Interactions with Lakers players: I've met and have autographs from Kobe, Shaq, Horry, Shaw, Fox, Eddie Jones, Fisher, and the rest of the 1996-1997 Lakers. Also met and have autographs from Magic (2x), Kareem (no autograph - he was mean! haha), Jamaal Wilkes, Norm Nixon, Elgin Baylor and, my favorite, Jerry West… When I met Jerry West, I knew who he was but I didn’t know how GREAT he was. I was only 8 or 9, and I was at a USC basketball game with my mom, which he happened to be attending. While we were in line for food, my mom leans over to me and says, “Hey, that’s Jerry West right there! You should go up and ask him for his autograph!... Now be polite!” I was a shy kid, so I sheepishly walked up to him and barely audibly said “Mr. West, will you please sign this ticket for my mom?” He got a kick out of this, laughed, knelt down and asked me what my name was. I told him and he said to me, “Ok Philip, here you go. But this is for you, ok? Don’t let your mama steal it away!” I nodded and he smiled, put his hands on my shoulders and sent me on my way. I walked away staring at the ticket. If I had truly known what I had in my hands, I wouldn’t have done what I did next: I let my mom hold on to it that night. Of course, she lost it and all I have now is the memory that I made Jerry West laugh.

Most cherished piece of Lakers memorabilia I have: It would have been that ticket that Jerry West signed, but now it’s probably the ball I have autographed by the entire 1996-1997 Lakers team. I met each one individually and they each signed the ball. Horry was the nicest of them all. He had a magnetic smile that instantly made him one of my favorites.

Memorable story about being a Lakers fan: Before the 2010 Finals, my friend – a huge Celtics fan – and I had a bet that essentially amounted to an enormous and expensive game of poker. It went like this: $50 goes to the fan of the winning team at the end of the series, however, after each game, the fan of the winning team can raise the bet by as much as he or she wants. The fan of the losing team can either accept the raise (call) or agree to pay out before the end of the series (fold), and be free of the original $50 bet. After Game 1, I raised $50. He called. After Game 2, he raised $50. I called. After Game 3, I raised $100. He very reticently called. After Game 4, he raised $100. I called. After Game 5, he raised $100. At this point, with the Lakers down 3-2, I had a very scary decision to make. I could either pay out the $300 now (I wouldn’t have to pay the $100 raised after Game 5 OR the original $50), or I could take the risk of being out $450 should the Lakers lose at home in Game 6, or even more if I raised again and they lost in Game 7. But I just had faith they’d come through at home, so I called. After Game 6, I raised $100. He called. We both now had $550 riding on the outcome of Game 7. Yikes! I’m not a rich man, and I’m not usually reckless, so if the Lakers lost, I might not have come out of my bedroom for days. Mid-way through the 3rd quarter, I thought my worst nightmare was coming true, as the Lakers fell behind by 13. To make matters worse, I get a text message from him (which I saved and have on my phone to this day), and it read “I hope u already visited the atm cuz ur about to pay me them $$$! Bos pwns LA. HAHAHAHA” I was sick to my stomach. And then it started – the Lakers began to fight back. I could feel the color return to my face. I screamed and jumped and yelled with every play. And you know the rest of the story. Artest hits a monster 3, Gasol makes a nearly impossible shot with Celtics draped all over him, Sasha sinks two free throws, and I’m $550 richer. Sweetest money I ever made.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina.

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Phil, left, with his wife, Reese. Phil also has two kids named Javier and Felipe. Courtesy: Phil.

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