Face-Off: Is the Dodgers or Lakers title more important to LA fans?

The Channels Opinion Pages | FACE-OFF

Eric Evelhoch and Dylan Grausz

The Dodgers and the Lakers are two paramount teams that represent the diversely energetic city of Los Angeles, California. There may be other professional teams based out of the area, but the Dodgers and Lakers are the lifeblood of Angeleno sports fans. Both have won their respective championships this year out for the first time since 1988, a year in which they both managed to take home the title— but which ‘dub’ was more significant for the die-hards of LA?

 

Eric Evelhoch, Staff Writer

One of the first things I noticed when I moved to southern California was that everywhere you went, you saw the Dodgers.

Memorabilia on the walls of a local sports bar look like they have been there as long as the bar itself. The logo is as prominently displayed in chain grocery and convenience stores as in family-owned markets and carnicerias.

Whether you choose to grab a burger, sushi, curry or Korean barbeque. Odds are that if the restaurant has a TV, it’ll have a Dodger game on.

Fandom and support for the Dodgers cut across LA’s multitude of cultures like no other, and their win means most to those who care most.

Los Angeles in general has had its share of professional championships since the 1988 World Series win. Over 32 years, Angelenos have celebrated five Lakers titles, two Kings Stanley Cup wins, five Galaxy MLS Cups and three Sparks titles.

All the while, Dodger fans suffered the indignity of seeing rivals succeed as the beloved Blue floundered.

The Padres making the 1998 World Series was an initial eye-poke, and the Angels winning in 2002 was a sucker punch. Then, the three titles in five years won by the Giants from 2010-2014, a succession of kicks to the gut. 

It’s only within the past decade that the Dodgers have been a consistent playoff contender; but once that was the norm, coming closer and closer became more and more agonizing.

Each loss fed a growing “always-a-bridesmaid, never-the-bride” reputation.

So seeing all-time great and lifelong Dodger Clayton Kershaw shed his “playoff choker” tag while winning a pair of World-Series games is sweet vindication. Watching Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Kiké Hernandez celebrate soothes the agony of over five seasons of near misses. 

And winning while Vin Scully, who turned 93 on Sunday, could be there for it is like having a beloved family elder at your wedding. The retired play-by-play voice of the Dodgers for more than 66 years narrating their championship film is only fitting.

The Dodgers are the people’s team. In a town of flashy glamor, they are the omnipresent, everyday grinders: the heartbeat of Los Angeles sports fans for 62 years.

At long last, the heart of the people is again the heart of a champion.

 

Dylan Grausz, Staff Writer

This year the Los Angeles Lakers won their first NBA championship in a decade. Led by the dynamic duo of Lebron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers were able to take down the Miami Heat by a best-of-seven series score of 4-2. 

This championship was not only special because it was their first title in ten years, but also because they were playing their final games in a bubble in Orlando. 

Also, ever since Kobe Bryant’s death earlier in the year, the Los Angeles Lakers were out on a mission. Lebron publicly said during the Lakers’ first game back since Kobe’s death that he wanted to bring a “chip” back to LA in Bryant’s honor. 

Nobody was expecting one of the greatest players of all time to die, much less the way he did. Kids looked up to a guy who they saw as a superhuman.

As sad as Kobe’s death was, it was the fuel to the fire Lebron needed to get himself in the mindset to win a title.

Kobe’s premature death was the start of a horrible 2020 and even a Bay-Area sports fan like myself began rooting for the Lakers. 

They then went on a tear until the season shut down due to COVID-19. Many NBA experts believed the Lakers to be the powerhouse of the league and had them as their favorites.

Kobe Bryant is viewed by Lakers fans in the same way that God is viewed by the Catholic Church. He was LA. 

After the likes of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired, Kobe was their heir-apparent in keeping the Lakers competitive and a relevant team in the NBA.

When the season was restarted in July, the Lakers were ready to play in honor of Kobe.

What makes their championship victory even more difficult and impressive is the fact that they had fewer off-days in between games due to less travel, so the players’ bodies were getting worked extremely hard. Imagine playing five or six basketball games in seven days for three straight months.

Though the Dodgers have not won a championship since 1988, the Lakers’ title is more important to the city of Los Angeles given the circumstances that led to their win and the inspiration they got from a fallen friend in Bryant.