I got a real life quality glimpse of LeBron in a Lakers uniform today. He looks good. Really good. I was skeptical when I initially heard he signed with my team – well, you know, not my team, but the team I’ve loved my entire life as a sports fan. As a boy growing up in Los Angeles and then Portland, my father pressed me on three points (keep in mind this is the 80’s).

  1. Love the Lakers above all else.
  2. Love the Raiders above all else except the Lakers.
  3. Hate with an eternal flame the Portland Trailblazers.

I’ve honored him for the most part. I practiced dribbling tennis balls up and down the sidewalk to be like Magic Johnson and wore goggles to be like James Worthy and Kurt Rambis, even though I didn’t need them. I despised the Celtics of the 80’s, cursing at the television screen as I watched countless NBA Finals wars between the Lakers and the Celtics, checking with my dad that is was okay to say things like, “Oh fuck you you motherfucker, you dumb white shit stain!”, when Kevin McHale or Bird, or even Ainge pulled some stinker east coast white guy BS to put their team up or tie, or God forbid take the lead. I loved the Raiders so much that by some transfer of energy I became a huge Tom Brady fan, and to this day still love #12 on New England. My father can’t really forgive that one, but hey, when Shaq betrayed Laker Nation and went to Miami I stuck it out with Kobe and the gang. He bought a Heat shirt and started rooting for Dwayne Wade. I was sick. Anyway, let me explain: It was 2001, a divisional matchup between the Raiders and the Patriots – the infamous tuck pass rule. Let’s just say I hated Tom Brady and New England so much that it eventually uprooted my mind and did some Freaky Friday type voodoo magic on my brain. As I said I am a diehard Tom Brady fan. I love the man, the myth, the legend.

And this brings me to my point basically…

Sports are crazy. Sports fans are especially insane. There’s a special place in the halls of madness for crazed, lunatic fans. I’ve never been a true psycho, but I’ve lived a long life of splendorous fandom. I’ve seen my chosen teams win a lot and I’ve survived some droughts but nothing like say a Cleveland Browns fan has endured (which is longer than my lifetime – but that’s beside the point). When I saw LeBron in that Lakers uniform I felt free. I felt like honor and service had been done and now I could look at this figure, this man, this possible GOAT and feel pride. I don’t expect the Lakers to win anything, and honestly unless they add a major piece or two I don’t see any championships coming our way with LeBron in the purple and gold. But it’s okay. The NBA and sports in general are so much larger and more interesting than putting all your eggs in some crazed basket that’s been dressed up in your favorite team’s colors. I’m just really excited to see how LeBron meshes with the young talent the Lakers have acquired over the last couple years, and I even want to see how the bizarre group of ragtag veterans plays out. They should be fun to watch. The Lakers have reinvigorated La La Land. Fans are excited and looking forward to this season. And that’s all because of the intergalactic pull of LeBron James.

Who knows? Maybe if I sell a kidney I can get tickets to a game – against like the Kings or somebody…

Anthony Statham

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