If you’re gnashing your teeth over the whipsaw nature of the Lakers’ playoff series – tied at two games each – with the Phoenix Suns, give your molars a rest. It’s likely that LeBron James, like Shaquille O’Neil or Kobe Bryant or Jerry West before him, will square his shoulders, dial up some historic heroics and pull that team all the way into the NBA finals.
He’ll do his job, but are you – the Laker fans – doing yours?
Let’s face it: from the Sports Arena to the “Fabulous Forum” to Staples Center, Southern California fans have been spoiled by the Lakers. We’ve always had the glamour players, the nicest facilities (mostly), the most excitement and the best teams.
The fellas in “royal blue (let’s face it, it’s purple) and gold” have made a bigger impact than any area pro franchise other than – arguably – the Dodgers. And they’ve done better than any other L.A. area team. Since coming to Hollywoodland in 1960, they’ve won 12 league titles, and that doesn’t include the five they won in Minneapolis.
By comparison, the Dodgers – over that period – have five World Series titles. The Angels have one. The Kings have two Stanley Cups, the Ducks one and the Clippers, uh, zero NBA crowns.
A Laker all-time all-star team, with folks like LeBron, Shaq, Kobe, Wilt, Kareem, Jerry, Elgin, etc. – could probably stand off the best of the NBA in a future heavenly series four games out of five.
So relax, grab a Red Bull and some Cheetos. There’s still more glory to be won.
Are Angels better than Dodgers?
Of course not. You could point to the fact that, through Sunday, the Halos have won two in a row and the Dodgers lost three straight. However, each local team was meeting teams at or near the top of their divisions, teams that are, at least, geographical rivals of “ours” in Oakland and San Francisco.
The good news is that both our locals did well against good teams. The NL West race has the Padres, Giants and Dodgers in a bunch. “These are three good ballclubs playing good baseball,” said Dodger manager Dave Roberts, “so we’re gonna have our hands full all year long.”
Speaking of free agents, Albert Pujols is doing better with the Dodgers than he did earlier this season down the Santa Ana Freeway in Anaheim. When he left Disneyland was batting .198. So far for the Chavez Ravine crew, he’s hitting .237. On Sunday, he drove in two runs and scored once. Big Al is, surprisingly, therefore hitting just three points below Mookie Betts, who helped lead two teams to World Series titles (2018 with the Red Sox and 2020 with the Dodgers) just a few seasons past.
The Olympics you may not see
Haven’t heard much about the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo? You know, the 2020 games postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic?
They are scheduled this time to open on July 23, but there’s a rising chorus of people wanting to cancel the event, or at least make them the 2022 Summer Games.
Although under control (we hope) in the U.S., the virus is resurgent in Japan. Only about 1 percent of the Japanese population has been vaccinated and athletes and volunteers entering the country will not be subject to quarantine. The CEO of one major corporation called the games a “suicide mission,” a term with special irony considering Japan’s experiences in World War II. A recent poll indicated that 40 percent of participants supported cancellation and 32 percent a postponement.
The motto for the Tokyo Games is “United by Emotion.” If the games are held as scheduled, let’s hope the athletes aren’t united by infection.
“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.