The last time I was in the Staples Center was game four of the finals, a game for the ages in which the Celts came back from 23 down to win the game and the championship. I was wearing my Ray Allen jersey, green pants and love beads. I’ve interviewed the team about their trusted Russian masseuse. I’ve even spent time with Dave Cowens.
But I returned for a Clippers/Lakers pre-season game. A fight broke out in the stands. “Wow,” I said to myself. “This is not the LA fans I know who come for the celebs and barely cheer.” It was Clippers home game and apparently they didn’t take kindly to some Laker fan talking smack.
My seats were thanks to my college roommate, season ticket holder David Kohan (co-creator of Will & Grace in his spare time but being a Clippers fan is the main thing). Kohan and I were trading text messages specially after I noticed Bill Simmons, the legendary basketball writer, two rows in front of me.
I asked our third roommate–Brian Pass who is unfortunately a Lakers fan with whom I have debated Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson now for 25 years–about the skinny Lakers guy covered in ink. He told me that Matt Barnes had become something of an enforcer.
As if on queue, Barnes threw Blake Griffin to the ground causing a major scuffle on the floor. Again, this was pre-season. The play was right in front of Kohan who made the mistake of coming out of his chair to call Barnes a thug. “He looked me straight in the eye and threatened me, as if to prove my point,” Kohan reported afterwards. For the rest of the game Barnes gave our vertically challenged buddy the evil eye every time down the court.
Between fights (and yes there have been plenty more in the Lakers/Clippers games during the regular season) I texted my son about Simmons. He was very upset that I wouldn’t talk to him. I figure famous people have a right to relax and enjoy a game like the rest of us.
But when I got home I did check out a hilarious interview Simmons did with Blake in which Blake criticizes the manner in which Simmons responded to yet another of his monster dunks. Two rows behind Simmons is my buddy Kohan (the guy in the grey shirt with white collar) with an even more lame response to the Griffin dunk. Despite the fist-a-cuffs with Barnes he needs some coaching on dunk cheering.
I finally went to a Celtics game the other night back in Boston (against Orlando). It was Perkins School for the Blind night–where the owner has a student and we are involved as supporters–so we briefly sat with the Celtics lead owner. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had jumped on the Clippers bandwagon.
But Blake, Chauncey and CP3 are a lot more fun to watch than the over-the-hill gang (plus a mad Rando) at the Fleet. Plus Griffin & Co have a better chance at beating the crap out of Lebron, as they already proved once this year.