Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My 1st Live Sporting Event (A Funny Thing Happened at the Forum)

In keeping with my last blog about how I became a sports fan, I figure I'd share some of my favorite childhood memories/moments. Since we're in the middle of two lockouts and the Dodgers are finding new ways to disappoint their fanbase and waste Matt Kemp's MVP-caliber season, it's more fun recalling my past than thinking about the how bleak the present is.

Somebody asked me about the first time I ever attended a game live. So let's take it back to 1995 shall we?

I was just starting to become a Lakers fan when Mom told us we'd be moving to Inglewood. The coolest thing about my Dad's house there? Literally within walking distance of the Great Western Forum. Walk down the hill, turn right and you'd see the Forum packed with cars and limos for night games. We used to memorize back routes to get home because we knew on Fridays to avoid the main streets.

My first game was against the Sacramento Kings in 6th grade. I remember being tripped out because I was so used to hearing Chick Hearn call games that I didn't know what to expect live. I walked in super excited and anxious to see the inside of the forum. There's nothing better than the thrill of walking into a stadium and being a part of that electric energy.

During the 2nd quarter, they had an announcement for a halftime shooting contest. Sure enough, they called my seat! Actually, they called my sister's seat but of course, she didn't care about shooting hoops. It was time for me to live out my dream and shoot on the same court as Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lake Show.

The 1995-96 Lakers.

We walked down to the court before halftime and while we waited, we bumped into this really tall guy. Turns out we bumped into Magic and I was like "Hey, Magic!" as you'd expect a giddy 6th grader to imagine. He flashed that great smile but was wisked away quickly before he got hounded for an autograph. I remembered Mom telling me all kinds of stories watching Magic in the house and I couldn't believe he was right there in front of us.

Finally it was time to go to work. Now granted, I was still a year removed from learning the game and I couldn't shoot worth a lick. Did it matter? Course not. I got out there wearing an oversized T-shirt they gave me and pulled up like it was a 3-point shootout I watched on All-Star Saturday. I was so geeked that I missed every single shot and didn't feel embarrassed one bit. You catch me missing that many shots nowadays and I'm walking off the court without looking back.

I just smiled and laughed all the way back to Mom and my sister. It was a memory I wouldn't forget - my first live game ever and I got to shoot on the Great Western Forum floor. Even though I've been blessed to be courtside at Staples Center, stood at home plate of Dodger and Angel Stadium and on the sidelines of both the Coliseum and Rose Bowl, that's probably my favorite on-court moment as a sports fan.

I went back to the Forum a few times where my favorite moment was seeing Shaq and Penny and cheering when they beat the Lakers by 2. Once the Lakers moved downtown, I only stepped into the Forum a few times when the church that bought it hosted a New Year's party and this past year when I saw Prince. But few things top that first time and it's a reminder when Inglewood came alive 2-3 times a week down the street from my house.

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