Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can an LA kid root for the Nuggets?

I grew up in LA. (Well, the LA suburbs, but whatever.) While I don't normally pay much attention to professional sports, I was a proud Laker fan during my teenage years. I attended numerous Laker games in the 80s, including a playoff game at which my brother sank a halftime free throw to win 600 RC Colas. I cheered them on as they defeated the Celtics in '85 and '87. I saw Mike Smrek at a Baja Cantina in Marina Del Rey after one of those games. All this is to say that my Laker fandom credentials are intact.

That said, I have lived in Denver for the past five years. The city has been good to me. I found a job here when no one else would hire me, and the city's Democrats elected me as a national convention delegate last year. I have many friend here and I own a house here. I grew up in LA, but Denver is my home.

So where does my loyalty properly lie in a rivalry between the Lakers and the Nuggets? I feel pained rooting against either one, but given how infrequently I actually follow NBA playoffs, I feel stupid remaining silent now that I'm paying attention. (Let's just stipulate that I have zero impact on the outcome of this series one way or another.)

The truth is, I've been rooting for the Nuggets. I feel more of a loyalty to them than I do to today's Lakers, who, as it turns out, no longer employ Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Kurt Rambis, or Byron Scott. I don't feel especially loyal to Kobe Bryant, who's kind of icky, or to Phil Jackson, who was one of the Laker's main enemies two decades ago.

Of course, it's a situational alliance. I will root for whichever team emerges victorious from the Western playoffs. I mean, you've got to consider the situation, right? I will always root for the Lakers over the Celtics, for Cal over Stanford, and for UCLA over USC. But if Stanford were playing against, say, the University of North Korea, I'd pretty much have to root for Stanford, wouldn't I? Just as I'd have to root for USC if they traveled back in time to play against Berlin State in 1939.

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