I didn’t grow up a Lakers fan.
Sure, I knew who Kobe Bryant was and I casually watched when they were in the playoffs like everyone around me seemingly did, but basketball wasn’t really my thing: I played for two years, wasn’t very good and, as a result of my lack of patience, lost interest.
On the final day of my youth basketball season, a teammate’s parent of mine graciously came up to my mom and told her that I should try out soccer. I was adamantly against it at first because I knew less about soccer than I did basketball, but eventually it became my life.
Not only did I play on the weekends, but I spent hours a day on YouTube watching highlight videos of the best players in the world: Ronaldinho, Kaká, Zidane, Beckham, Ronaldo, Messi — it would be a while until I thought about basketball again.
Then one day, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a video of a feathery-haired basketball player juggling a ball at half court. That player was Steve Nash, and he quickly became my favorite player.
The problem with being a Nash fan in Los Angeles, though, was that Suns games weren’t as accessible as they are now, so outside of nationally televised games, I was only able to watch YouTube highlights of Nash. That was until the Lakers traded for him in the summer of 2012.
And that’s the story of how I became obsessed with the Lakers.
Prior to the 2021-22 season, the 2012-13 campaign was arguably the worst season in Lakers history (at least in relation to the team’s expectations) but for me, it was my first season as an engaged fan and I found every second intoxicating. I didn’t miss a single game, even when I probably should have skipped out on a few.
But watching wasn’t enough to feed my obsession: I needed to read about it, tweet about it and, if I could, write and podcast about it. Doing it for a living wasn’t even a thought of mine at the time; I just wanted to talk about the Lakers.
So I started applying everywhere. And by “applying,” I mean emailing people begging to let me write for their site for free. One of the people I emailed was Drew Garrison, the editor-in-chief of Silver Screen and Roll at the time.
To my surprise, Drew replied to me and said that he was familiar with my work. That alone was enough to keep me going, which, in hindsight, was good because I didn’t hear from him again for a year.
The next time I emailed Drew was when Harrison Faigen left SSR to write for Lakers Nation (traitor) and Anthony Irwin followed him out the door. I knew the Lakers had a busy offseason coming up, and I knew Drew was going to need help. I was right, and Drew got me onboarded in a matter of days.
Since then, a lot has happened: Drew left, I briefly took over and Harrison came back to run the site with Anthony as his No. 2.
Harrison could have fired me off into the sun when he returned, and at times I’m sure there were times he wished he would have, but he didn’t and for that I’m eternally grateful, not only because it allowed me to have a platform, but because it gave me this community.
You see, as much as I enjoyed my job covering the Lakers, there were days it sucked — lots of them — and the only thing that kept me going on those days was this community. Are Lakers fans as vile as their reputation suggests? At times, sure, and I’ve definitely been on the wrong side of that. But they’re also some of the most supportive people in sports.
Without this community, I wouldn’t have a career in sports media, I wouldn’t have been able to live my dream of hosting a successful podcast, and I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends. I owe so much to you all, and the love I have for you will never fade.
But once again, I’m leaving the hardwood for the pitch, as I’ll be joining Fox Sports as their soccer editor. Words cannot express how excited I am for this next chapter of my career and I hope you’ll follow along. That’s now why I wrote this long-winded goodbye, though.
I wrote this for the kid struggling in high school, not sure if his non-academic interests can be molded into a career. The answer to that question was yes.
I was an awful high school student and I had no idea what the fuck I was doing when I enrolled in classes at community college. I also didn’t grow up with money or connections in the industry; I just shot my shot and it went in.
So whatever it is you’re doing in your life or in your career, just keep shooting; one of them will fall. That’s what I learned from watching highlights of Ronaldinho and Steve Nash, and I hope that’s what someone learns from this.