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( Jun. 15th, 2009 01:39 pm)
Sure, the economy is in the toilet, things haven't been this bad in quite a long time. For Los Angelenos, you could go further than that. The state is in financial meltdown, the city budget is reaching it's limit, and yet since May, there's been a bright spot for Los Angeles: our beloved Los Angeles Lakers.

Laker fans are always criticized for lack of enthusiasm or spirit at home games, highlighted by the media's attention to stars at the game. When your team plays in a city of actors, singers and celebrities, of course they will always get the attention, because they're right there in front of the camera. But if you go higher into the stands, that's when you see the true purple and gold fans. It's the fans who bust their back all week, the families, and the regular Angeleno that beats the drum that is the heartbeat of the Lakers. These are the people who live their lives for their families, the hard workers, the everyman. They are the ones who give people the right to use the lyric of Randy Newman, "I love L.A."

And never does that line mean more to Los Angelenos than when the Lakers are winning. Fifteen championships, second only to Boston, but always a contender. Angelenos love to rally around their Lakers, and love to hate them. In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, it was written that Lakers fans do not love their team as much as other markets, and that we don't cheer enough. I beg to differ. In the Lakers' championship history, L.A. fans have come to expect excellence, and when it is presented, we will respond. We know it. The Lakers know it. The Lakers know that to get the Staples Center bumping, you need to bring it. With other fans blindly following their teams, the true fans in Los Angeles love to cheer for them, but only if they deserve it.

And that is what makes the Lakers such a catalyzing agent for the city of Los Angeles. There is not a team in Los Angeles that has such a unifying power over us. We love them when they're at the top of their game and love to talk about them when they're not. But when push comes to shove, when they win, the city wins.

Sports is a funny thing. We've all played them at some point. And when we're with friends, suddenly we're all experts at something. But one thing we can all agree on is that sports brings people together. You can have the worst day of your life, but a win by your favorite team brings a smile to your face. And that brings me to another point, we love OUR teams. Sure it's owned by a person, family, or company, but in the end, they are known as the Los Angeles Lakers, or Orlando Magic.

Sports allows us to rally around a banner, something to make us feel good about ourselves as a city or country depending on what sport we're talking about. Pride in your team or country will always be something you can get from sports. For me, I've had two great moments in just the last year. Team USA bringing basketball gold back to America, and the Lakers winning franchise title 15. Yes, things are bad, but having something to cheer about..makes all the difference.
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