One of the best cities in the world, one of the most successful franchises in the NBA; is it a coincidence the two go hand in hand? If you have ever been to a Lakers game, you are all too familiar with Randy Newman's song, I Love LA. I sat looking at the scoreboard in the final seconds of the Lakers vs. Cavaliers game. The clock hit 00.0 and I heard Public Address Announcer Lawrence Tanter yell "Lakers victory number 32" followed by the pop that signals the release of purple and gold streamers dancing down from the rafters of STAPLES Center. The Laker Girls jumped up, on came that famous song, and I thought to myself, "Wow does it get any better than this?" I Love LA. Here's a tribute to the most wonderful city in the world and why some of your favorite Lakers players love it so much.
Over 70 miles of beaches line the coast of LA and with 80-degree days in the middle of January most can agree that the coast is one of LA's most valuable assets. Lamar Odom agreed, "In LA the beach runs so long; there are so many you can go to. I would say LA beach life is part of life itself." Sasha touts the beach as one of his favorite places to relax when he has free time, "I love the beach, it's something unbelievable. The ocean has this special vibe in it that calms me down." Does the Pacific contain the keys to NBA stardom? Probably not, but it's a wonderful place to unwind with friends and family. With so many to choose from, what are some of our players' favorites? Lamar and Sasha both enjoy the beaches they live next to, Manhattan and Redondo respectively. As for Ariza, a LA native, he likes to go back and visit his high school favorite, Dockweiler. "I used to go there a lot. It's right by my school and we used to run the beach as a workout. It definitely has a special place in my heart."
The proof is in the pudding. LA is a top vacation destination for those not fortunate enough to reside in this fantastic urban oasis. There are a vast array of places to visit, events to entertain, and places to dine. "You can do anything here that you could do in other cities", said Ariza. You name it, we got it. One of Odom's favorite places to enjoy a night off is El Floridita, a Cuban restaurant and salsa club on Fountain and Vine. If you are a fan of sushi, Ariza recommends Nobu sushi with two locations in Beverley Hills and Malibu. The allure of LA has helped draw people from all over the world. One of the most wonderful aspects of this town is its diversity. "It's very multicultural, you have everything you need for every type of person," Vujacic agreed.
We cannot forget that with LA comes Hollywood. It's impossible not to run into a celebrity, the shooting of a movie, or some premier or award show. On any given night you can spot a variety of celebrities sitting courtside cheering on their Los Angeles Lakers. When asking the players whether or not it was weird seeing these stars watch them perform, they all agreed it's definitely a unique experience. "That's the coolest part about being a Laker, seeing the people that you look up to and whose work you like, enjoying our work. I think that's really cool. It makes you feel good and confident about going out," said Odom. Ariza similarly stated, "It's crazy that we watch them in the movies, they come watch us play, we appreciate what they do, and they appreciate what we do. It's cool." Sharing diehard fandom with Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon, attendees at every Laker home game, how cool is that?
There is one drawback to Los Angeles that I must address… the freeways! Vujacic, always the optimist, offered a positive approach to that inevitable bumper-to-bumper we all face. "The freeways are uh, interesting" he laughed, "but you kind of learn a lot about patience from the traffic." And like they always say, patience is a virtue.
For those of us born and raised in the big city, living elsewhere is unfathomable. We really are spoiled. Ariza, who's had the opportunity to play in a couple other large cities, New York and Orlando, is just as hooked as we are. When I asked him what he liked most about Los Angeles, he replied, "LA is home."
So there you have it. There really are more than a couple of reasons LA is the best city in the world. "I've been here five years. I don't know if you have enough time for me to start counting what I love about LA," admitted Vujacic. I don't have enough room in this story to address them all either, but Lamar summed it up nicely. "The weather, the diversity, the way of life. LA is a place I'd want to live for the rest of my days." Well put Lamar, well put. So when you're stuck in that 5 o'clock traffic tomorrow, roll down the windows, relax, and think about it. You might just be one of the luckiest people in the world. Turn on Randy Newman and sing it out loud. I love LA!
No link; part of the Lakers Insider e-mail I received.