Friday, 23rd August 2019

DONE-leavy in Los Angeles?

Posted on 03. Jan, 2010 by stavkav in NBA

DONE-leavy in Los Angeles?

Just when I think I have myself all figured out, life knocks me on my arse and shows me just how ignorant I truly am. The most recent knockdown occurred on April 10th, when I was fortunate enough to get free tickets to the L.A. Clippers versus the Sacramento Kings contest at Staples Center. On this night, the basketball gods were kind enough to reach down to the 8th row behind the Clipper bench and replace one fan’s hate with wisdom.

In the previous five years, there has been no greater Mike Dunleavy basher than yours truly (well maybe the Sports Guy Bill Simmons). As an avid Los Angeles Clippers fan, many of Coach Dunleavy’s decisions have caused me to experience panic attacks, curse profusely in front of family, and abuse alcohol. Dunleavy’s coaching against the Phoenix Suns in the 2006 NBA Playoffs was especially bad for my physical and mental health. I never want to hear the name Daniel Ewing again.

A good Dunleavy bashing always starts with a little bit of history. Before a tirade begins, the listener must be told that the only reason Mike Dunleavy took the L.A. Lakers to the finals in 1991 was because Magic Johnson and James Worthy were on that team. The listener must then be made aware of the monumental meltdown/choke-job that occurred in the 2000 Western Conference Finals where the Portland Trailblazers, coached by Dunleavy, gave up a double digit lead to Shaq, Kobe, and the rest of the L.A. Lakers during the final minutes of game 7. Damon Stoudamire never wants to hear the name Mike Dunleavy again.

After the history portion of the bash is complete, any number of Dunleavy short-comings or current Clipper woes can be discussed at length using as many expletives as necessary. When concluding the tirade, it is crucial to mention the only way to make everything right is for owner Donald Sterling to fire Mike Dunleavy.

I was prepared to use the Dunleavy-bashing formula described above on April 10th at Staples Center. My hate for the man was turned up to 11 and I was ready to talk with whatever fan was willing to listen. But that didn’t end up being necessary because a drunken fan sitting a few rows away from me spoke up for the entire Clipper nation. The rumblings started in the first half. A few well-timed “Fire Dunleavy” shouts left most of us in the section by the Clipper bench chuckling. The beer must have been flowing at halftime because this fan really picked it up a notch during the second half. The shouts turned in to chants and his cronies even started getting in on the action. The chants then became louder and more frequent and the Clipper bench started to take notice.

Ricky Davis was the first to nonchalantly look back in an attempt to get a glimpse of the heckler. He also tried to hide a smile once he spotted him. I noticed others get sucked in to the drama as well. Assistant coach and former player Rory White casually glanced up during a time out as did announcer Mike Smith. This heckler was relentless and there is no doubt in my mind that Mike Dunleavy could hear every word. After a while, it just started to get uncomfortable in my section, especially as the “Fire Dunleavy” chant started to spread.

That’s when a very strange thing happened to me. I started to feel bad for the man who had been tormenting me for the last 5 years; I started to feel bad for Mike Dunleavy. I don’t know how or why this happened (that’s why I attributed the epiphany to the basketball gods earlier in this article), but somehow it happened. I started to think of all the positive things coach Dunleavy has done for the Clippers like leading them to the best record in franchise history and convincing owner Donald Sterling to finally spend money. I thought of some of the bigger names he was able to help bring to the Clippers like Sam Cassell, Baron Davis, and Marcus Camby. I realized that, besides Elgin Baylor and Eric Piatkowski, Mike Dunleavy is the only other form of continuity the Clippers have had in recent years. So, I finally cut the guy some slack.

I could finally admit that I was mad at myself and not Mike Dunleavy. In psychology, it is referred to as projection. I was angry with myself and projected that anger on to coach Dunleavy. I was mad at myself for having hope and believing the Clippers could ever be more than just L.A.’s b-team. I tasted a little bit of success in 2006 and thought it would be enough to change the history of a franchise overnight. I wanted immediate results and I started to get unruly. I think a big portion of the Clipper nation felt or currently feels this same way.

Los Angeles Clippers fans are usually patient, easy-going, and kind, not bitter and angry. This fan is going back to basics.

Who knows what the future holds for coach Mike Dunleavy? Based on his performance in the last three years, one would naturally assume that he may not be coaching the Los Angeles Clippers next season. However, knowing how the fiscally minded Donald Sterling likes to work, it also just as likely that Dunleavy will be the coach of the Clippers for the next few years instead of being bought out of a contract where he has over $10 million still coming his way.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Posted on 03. Jan, 2010 by stavkav in General Sports, NBA

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Professional basketball fans in Los Angeles usually fall in to one of two groups. The first group is comprised of mellow people who have no problems going with the flow. These people never have high expectations and can have an equally good time going to a club or staying home to watch television. The second group is comprised of quite a different breed. This group is ultra confident and always wants to have a good time. In fact, their confidence can resemble arrogance and they may even seem to have a sense of entitlement. Some members of this group might enjoy a quiet night at home, but the majority are out and about, being seen and living the L.A. life up. If you live in southern California you know where I’m going with this. If you don’t call Los Angeles home, then pick which group you identify most with. Group number one means you are a Clippers fan. Group number two means you root for the Lakers.

While there are many more differences between Clippers and Lakers fans than the few mentioned above, one glaring similarity exists: both want to enjoy themselves and are not looking for any trouble. This holds a bit truer for Clippers fans as there is more drama associated with winning titles and tensions can be a bit higher over in Laker land.

Excessive winning can make a fan impatient. Laker fans have been known to get quite vocal at times. But their rants and shouts from the stands are usually comical in nature and rarely do they cross the line. Occasionally, the crowd will unite after a blown call to chant bullsh*t, bullsh*t in unison, but that is about as bad as it gets. So it is surprising to hear about the unruly behavior of the L.A. fans this past Christmas day during the game against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. The game was physical and the referees swallowed their whistles for the most part. The lack of foul calls frustrated the Lakers and ultimately led to Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, and Lamar Odom getting technical fouls in protest. Odom persisted and was ejected from the game which prompted an atypical reaction from the crowd on hand at Staples Center. They shared the frustration of the Laker players and expressed this feeling by littering the court with foam hands that were passed out as part of a Nike promotion earlier that night.

“I’ve never seen an L.A. crowd react like this before,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson after the incident. “I like their enthusiasm. I don’t like their demonstrative manner.”

Though the reaction from the L.A. fans at Staples Center was atypical, it was definitely not excusable. Amid the harmless foam signs that were twirling on to the court, a few water bottles found their way on as well. You will get no argument here that getting hit with foam is harmless. A full water bottle however, that is another story entirely. King James would agree:

“The only thing that you hope doesn’t happen is one of the players getting hit or a referee getting hit, especially by a full water bottle…when that came on the court, it was coming pretty fast. You don’t want that to happen because it could definitely hurt somebody. Luckily no one got hurt, and that’s a good thing.”

It is easy to see how a fan could have a momentary lapse of reason during a game of this magnitude. Kobe versus Lebron aside, there was also the storyline of Shaquille O’Neal making yet another glorious return to L.A. with yet another contender. In the heat of the moment, any fan might feel the urge to fling some foam.

“If you want to throw something, at least throw something that isn’t going to hurt,” Kobe tried to explain after the game. “So I guess that (foam) was the best situation.”