Sunday, June 06, 2010

Lakers Press Pass

One of the best reasons to live in Los Angeles is the plethora of renowned sports teams within the city limits: professional, college and (I’m guessing) amateur as well. This is especially important to Tim. But even I—who has no time to follow one team let alone several—would hate to live in a town that doesn’t offer year-round sports. Right now, the focus is on the Lakers as they play Boston for the national basketball championship. Tim’s radio station broadcasts the Lakers, so not only has he been able to see some games in-person, he’s also seen many of the celebrity fans who sit courtside during those games. I asked him to write a blog entry about his most recent Laker adventures. Here’s what he had to say:

I work at the local station that carries the Lakers. All season I've had a press pass that would allow me to go to any of the games. I only started using it once the playoffs began. Since I don’t have a specific function for the broadcast, there is no assigned seat in the arena for me. So, like all the other orphans (radio stringers, foreign journos, hangers-on) I head up, way up, to what's called the “hockey press box.” It's higher up than the cheapest seats in the last row of the arena. At least we get to sit between the baskets. There’s plenty of room to stretch out and read the newspaper, plus there’s a counter to lean on if I’m inclined to watch the game. The best part is an uncrowded restroom with no lines.

My first game was amazing. During halftime one of our broadcasters told me to go with him downstairs. We first went to the Chick Hearn Media Room, where I saw TJ Simers & Bill Plashke from the L.A. Times and many of the TV sports guys from the local L.A. stations. He then took me out on the floor of the arena. The press pass was like a golden key; you waved it and people said, “Come on in!” We walked by Jack Nicholson, Dyan Cannon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“There’s Andy Garcia,” I said to myself. “And Teri Hatcher!” I also saw Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg. My head was spinning, but I, of course, played it cool like the SoCal native I am.

I called Cindy from the floor and told her everybody I'd seen. She only cared about Andy Garcia.

Back to the media room for one last run through, then up to the hockey press box for the second half. I stopped to get a beer on the way back. Unfortunately, the press pass gets you nothing at the concession stand but a blank stare and a cashier saying, “One beer, $12.”

To our radio station's delight, the Lakers made it to the NBA finals. Suddenly my all-access pass was worthless.

“Only the NBA can issue credentials for the finals,” I was told. “Sorry!”

This was particularly distressing because the Lakers are playing their longtime rivals, the Boston Celtics. There had to be something I could do . . .

My boss came to the rescue. He requested passes in case there was some glitch with the broadcast that we needed to fix. The team has played 41 home games this season, plus the first 3 rounds of the playoffs, and not once have we needed to rush over and save the day with technical daring-do. But it does allow me to roam up above the 300 level and find a place to sit. I passed on the first game and set my sights on Game 2 today.

During the playoffs the station does a remote broadcast before each home game. Our broadcast booth, which I usually set-up, is in front of the Staples Center, near Magic Johnson’s statue. All the swells have to pass by our location to get to their VIP entrance. I’m always surprised to see the many obviously wealthy men, middle-aged and older, bring their very beautiful daughters and, in some cases, granddaughters to enjoy the game (wink wink, nudge nudge).

The Lakers easily won Game 1 on Thursday. I'm hoping they continue their good play today. You can find me in my favorite seat at the top of the arena. I’ll be the one watching the game through binoculars.


Tim just got home. The Lakers lost, but he got some good photos, including one of former Laker Rick Fox (handsome!), and a short movie of the action (click on it to make it go).

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