My L.A. Story

Some of you might be aware that I took California by storm this past weekend, going to watch Clippers and Lakers on the same day to take my Los Angeles experience to the next level. With that said, some people were curious about the trip itself and how it went. So without further ado.....

Given the fact Karim (my homie) and I were traveling from the east coast, so we had to make a stop in Philadelphia where we waited a few hours to grab our connecting flight to Los Angeles. While awaiting for our flight, we decided to try the famous Philly cheese steak.

The lady at the counter couldn't have been more bothered by our presence as she took down our order. When we finally got our food, it was completely unimpressive. The only "good" moment in Philly came when we saw one of the guys that works on the runway come inside the airport with with his Kanye West shades on. The only thing missing was for "All of the Lights" to start playing.

Once we got to Los Angeles, it took us a few hours to get acclimated. It was weird seeing all the signs in Spanish but we managed. Made a few stops into some stores where we were regularly spoken to in Spanish, but once again we were able to understand each other.

One thing that surprised us was the contrast between people from the east coast and the west coast. Not to get too philosophical, but if asked to imagine any city out east not named Miami, the image of a dark and gloomy city comes to mind. People out east aren't really trying to socialize or do basic things like saying "thank you" and "your welcome".

Out west though, the image is one of sun and warmth, where people take time to acknowledge you. For instance, we went to a fast food joint named El Pollo Loco (for my non-Spanish speakers, that means the crazy chicken) and after paying for our food the dude said “thanks man, really appreciate it”. It almost seemed like he didn’t expect us to pay for our meal.

Even when we took a cab and I gave the driver a tip, he said “ay thanks papa”. You know you’ve made it when a grown man is calling you “papa”.

We did the whole tourist thing and went to the Walk of Fame and took pictures. During the time we were there, there was an anti-Semitism rally, which generated a fairly good turnout. That’s when we saw the biggest stars in Hollywood: the L.A.P.D.

Sounds weird right? Well think of every Los Angeles based hit movie you’ve ever seen. Now who always makes a cameo in those movies? You guessed it, the Los Angeles Police Department. Hell, they even made appearances in real life news such as the Rodney King incident, the Biggie murder and J.M. Poulard’s first trip to the City of Angels.

I wanted to take a picture with them just for the hell of it, but then I remembered that these guys could literally come up with a reason to toss me into jail. So we took a pass there.

After all the hanging out was done, it was finally time to watch basketball. We headed over to the Staples Center on Sunday to watch the Clippers take on the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix took control of the game early and although the contest was close from start to finish, I never got the sense that the Clippers would truly take control of the game. Steve Nash was just too good of a maestro, setting up his teammates for open shots while the Suns defense did a good job of defending Blake Griffin.

Who knew Channing Frye had Griffin’s number? Frye sat on his every move and contested them well. With that said, Blake still made sure Karim and I got our money’s worth when he gave Marcin Gortat the dunk of his life. I’m still not sure if that dunk was better than the one on Timofey Mozgov, but there is certainly a debate to be made about it. We were seated on the baseline behind the backboard, so we saw Blake Griffin come at us in full speed to give Gortat the business. He was whistled for an offensive foul, but we still got a highlight out of it.

The Clippers crowd was good during the game and often cheered their team on. No big surprise there except for one thing: once Griffin fouled out, the fans became irate at the call and started chanting and booing during the game, thus raising the intensity of the game. The Clippers ended up losing the game to the Suns, but it was a quite entertaining contest.

By nighttime, it was time for the main event: the Lake Show. The Lakers were hosting the Portland Trail Blazers and we were excited to catch the game but we were more intrigued with spotting the differences between Lakers and Clippers games.

Staples Center dimmed the lights in the crowd to make the bright Lakers court stand out more than usual whereas the Clippers on the other hand had all the lights in the stadium on. It took us maybe 20 minutes to realize all the differences between both Los Angeles teams.

Indeed, some people showed up at the Clippers game wearing Lakers gear, but the same could not be said about people showing up with Clippers gear for the purple and gold. Also, Clippers games are just about like every other NBA game; where they try to keep you entertained during timeouts with gimmicks, contests and interactive games for the fans. The Lakers have none of that. When you go watch Jerry Buss’ team, it’s quite clear that you are there to watch his team play. No games, no gimmicks and no tricks. During timeouts, the Laker girls come out and dance to a song (far too much R&B played during Lakers games by the way) and then leave once the game resumes. There were perhaps one or two interactive moments with the fans but that was it.

The Lakers game was perceived much differently by the fans than the Clippers game. Fans were much more into watching the purple and gold, living and dying with each made and missed shot. The crowd was highly critical of their own team’s play but made sure to reward every good play with a cheer and clap.

The Lakers won the game late on the strength of their backcourt (Kobe made a tough fade away jump shot on the baseline over Brandon Roy that sealed the game) and then we were out of the building.

By then we had become locals. On the cab ride back to the hotel, I gave the driver directions on how to get there and was even able to give an old lady in need some directions on how to get where she was headed. All in all, the Los Angeles trip was a great one, and the city has officially convinced me that going back might not be a bad thing.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at You can also find me on Twitter with the handle name @ShyneIV.


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