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Check that -- Me would have screamed, "No!!!!! I hated their colors, hated their fans and really hated "Showtime. I thought they were losers. I thought they were soft. My beloved Celtics won the title simply because we were tougher, because we had Bird, because we had the Garden, because we had Murph and Sully high-fiving after big baskets instead of Michael Douglas and Dyan Cannon. We took control of the series in Game 4 by beating the Lakers up and knocking them around. In Game 5, the famous Heat Game, they were sucking from oxygen masks while Bird turned them into Lakers stew. In Game 7, they wilted from the pressure -- especially Magic, who fell apart in sections -- and handed us the title.

I went to the last two games. It felt like winning a rumble. The Lakers returned the favor infailed to show up for the rubber match inthen outlasted a banged-up Celtics squad Sluts in jacks green my favorite team ever. By that time, I hated the Lakers more than Heidi Montag hates dignity. I hated them so much Sluts in jacks green, in the Finals, I even rooted for the Pistons -- the same team that stepped on McHale's broken foot and said Bird would be just Beach fuckung girlspics good player if he were black -- just because I couldn't stomach the Lakers going back-to-back.

I continued to hate them through the s and into the new century, escalating that hatred during the Shaqobe Era, when the Lakers won three straight titles and seemed like a safe bet for six to eight more. The very first "con"? I couldn't imagine living in Lakers country, being surrounded by their fans, seeing those Lakers flags on cars, hearing my neighbors gush about Kobe I made the Sluts in jacks green, anyway. My first Lakers game happened in Novemberonly six weeks after I moved from Boston, only three days after my first degree Thanksgiving and 9: NFL game, and only one day after eating at a posh Santa Monica restaurant and picking my jaw off the floor because Dr.

Dre had strolled in for a quiet dinner with his wife. It was more of a scene than a basketball game. It went against everything I believed in. That Sluts in jacks green have been the strangest hour period of my life. We sat across from the Lakers bench amid a section that could have passed for a Sluts in jacks green crowd at the Hollywood Bowl. Trophy girlfriends and trophy wives were sprinkled throughout every section. I learned quickly that there's a special dress code that you see only at Lakers games: Needless to say, we weren't overflowing with "sporty hot" women in Boston. Throw in the fact that This was a sporting event? That wasn't the only unique thing I noticed.

There were enough botched face-lifts, bulbous implants and scary comb-overs to carry Sluts in jacks green special edition Sluts in jacks green Star magazine. Nobody yelled at the officials, nobody was getting drunk. Unlike in Boston, it didn't seem as though there were enough clusters of guys just having a few pops together; almost everyone seemed to be on a date. One of the Sluts in jacks green cheers of the Fucking long dicks Jack Nicholson's video Sluts in jacks green cameo. At halftime, everyone sitting courtside scurried toward one of the corners including Nicholson and disappeared underneath the stadium for Oh, and there was a game going on the whole time.

And the Laker Girls. Before that night, I had never attended a sporting event overshadowed by the scene itself. Maybe it was a meaningless early-season game for a team that had just won three straight titles, but over the next few years, as I kept hitting games, that balance remained skewed -- the scene always trumped the game -- and fed into my unwavering belief that Lakers fans were bandwagon phonies. Well, untilmy first Lakers playoff game Lakers-Suns, Game 4when I learned that playoff Lakers basketball had little in common with regular-season Lakers basketball.

The same "scene" was in place, only with buzz and urgency. I brought my father to that one; we left the Silicon Center with begrudging respect for the fans. They cheered at the right times, lifted the team when it mattered and generally knew what to do. The inherent problem with any Lakers game: Type A would be the die-hards -- mostly middle or lower class, populating the upper levels of the arena as well as the higher corner seats. These are the ones who attend championship parades, stick flags on their cars, wear jerseys to games and defend Kobe to the death. They are my mortal enemies, and I love when they are unhappy I don't mind these fans unless they are giving their tickets to Spaulding Smails-type relatives, which happens more than you think.

They always return for the playoffs, just one reason why those games are always better. The wheels come off with Type B: Every negative impression of a Lakers fan comes from the Type B's, who tend to cluster for weekend games and Game 7s -- anything that's a difficult ticket -- so instead of "Night of the Living Dead," it's "Night of the Living Pseudo-Fan. It's mostly Hollywoodites who called in favors or paid big bucks; the real fans get shoved into the upper decks or priced out entirely. I will always believe that the Celtics won Game 4 of the Finals because it wasn't a typical Lakers crowd. If you want to have a sports experience with a healthy amount of L.

You get the highest percentage of real fans that way. So I guess you could say that, after eight years, I have adapted to some degree: I love seeing good basketball in person more than I hate the Lakers, if that makes sense. Would I rather be part of an old-school, hard-core basketball crowd in Boston or New York for three hours? But Lakers playoff games aren't a bad fallback plan two or three times per spring, as long as you can stomach: The constant gushing over Kobe. The unwavering collective belief that any time Kobe misses, this absolutely means he was fouled. The unwavering collective belief that any time Kobe gets whistled for a foul or a turnover, he definitely didn't do it.

Everyone's willingness to overlook the two or three times per game when Kobe blatantly shows up one of his teammates or sells them out with a nasty look. I have learned to tune things out. They love the guy. But just to make sure I wasn't being quietly corrupted and having my soul usurped, I brought my friend Jacoby to Game 2 of the Jazz-Lakers series. I thought he would be a good fish-out-of-water test case for my theory that Lakers games have nothing in common with anything else in sports. Jacoby lucked out for his virgin voyage: We met at my house, drove down to the game, parked and passed through L.

Live on the way to the Staples. Once upon a time, the Staples Center was the only reason to go downtown at night, unless you wanted to get mugged, stabbed or chased. The building was surrounded by parking lots, sleazy hotels and about 30 different places to get a lube job or a tire changed. Thanks to the L. Live project just finished this yearit's now surrounded by a movie theater, an ESPN building with an ESPN Zone, multiple quality restaurants and bars, a Marriott, a towering Ritz Carlton and a mammoth parking garage. Fans have a place to go before and after games. Players have a fancy hotel to bring groupies and hookers.

As we headed toward the cheery entrance, a confused Jacoby wondered, "Is this really the same place that the Clippers play at? We decided that the man had reached the final stage in life: The Lakers have more than a few Pajama Rich fans. All Type B's, by the way. We went inside, found our section, found our row and realized we were sitting next to Lisa Leslie and her husband. I thought about introducing myself and saying, "Hey, I'm the guy who's been making fun of your league for the last 10 years and thinks it should go away," but decided against it. At any other event, we probably would have been sneaking glances at her -- she's like nobody you've ever seen in person, elegant and impossibly tall -- and admiring her for chowing down on an entire pizza while wearing a cocktail dress, only this time, there was way too much to see.

Jacoby quickly embraced the world of "sporty hot" "this crowd is LOADED"appreciated me for underselling the Laker Girls "classier than I expected"loved the opening with bedsheets falling off the scoreboard and giving way to a video display "that was just plain cool" and chewed up the general vibe "this is everything game presentation should be". That's a crucial point: Most NBA games these days are overshadowed by a misguided attempt to turn the game into a scene. Every team turns down the lights for the introductions, blasts the same Black Eyed Peas songs, shows the same inspirational movie clips, trots out the same semi-skanky-looking cheerleaders, plays the same musical cues to get fans to cheer With Lakers playoff games?

It really does feel like a scene. And sure, the celebrities help. You just never know who might be lurking, with the obvious exception of Nicholson, a courtside staple and America's most beloved actor. Think of how many competitors for that title came and went over the years -- Newman, Redford, Cruise, Stallone, Arnold, Crowe, Hanks, Murphy, Smith -- only old Jack still has that championship belt. When he passes some day, Lakers games will transform into something else. During the regular season, Jack sits like Bernie Lomax in his seat and barely moves. During the playoffs, it's a much more animated Jack -- he yells at the refs, hobnobs with opponents and referees, even stands up during lulls to coerce the crowd into a "Come on, guys, let's pick it up here!

In general, the playoff crowds are locked in. You forget how much winning they have witnessed over the years: Not just 15 titles, but five straight decades of contention with only a couple of minor bumps.

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The very first "con"?

One night at Jack's place

I love seeing good basketball in person more than I hate the Lakers, if that makes sense. Check that -- Me would have screamed, "No!!!!! Everything hinges on No. Jacoby lucked out for his virgin voyage: The wheels come off with Type B:.