When the NBA lockout was announced in the summer of 2011, I was driving the streets of Dallas and checking out the three sports radio stations in the area. I listened briefly to each one to get their take on the major news of the day and then called my basketball cohort Mike Monroe in San Antonio.
“Not the lockout?” wondered Monroe.
“Well then what?”
“Two of the three are in animated discussions about the Cowboys,” I said.
The Cowboys were four weeks away – not from the regular season, but from the opening of training camp. And yet the NBA lockout was far less of a story in my hometown of Dallas.
The Cowboys are the center, the middle and the outer edges of the sporting universe here. The Mavericks and Rangers vie for a distant second. When each of those teams makes the NBA or Major League Baseball playoffs, they have to advance to the second round before their television ratings in Dallas surpass those of a Cowboys game – a Cowboys regular season game.
That football story is a way of saying I understand Lakers fans, because the Lakers are to Los Angeles what the Cowboys are to Dallas. And so I understand the zeal of Lakers fans. I understand their obsessiveness. I understand their irrationality.
And I hear about it all the time because my son, who grew up on the East Coast, lives in LA.
“These Lakers fans are unbelievable,” have been the opening words of many conversations.
Those words are often uttered in Dallas about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has made the Cowboys one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world but is criticized for being too involved in football decisions.
Sound familiar, Lakers fans?