A TRIP TO THE TOP OF THE STAPLE

A take on attending a Los Angeles Lakers game as an opposing fan.

By Jarrod Castillo, Athletics Editor

When I found out that NBA megastar LeBron James decided to take his talents to Southern California, my initial reaction was one of “meh”; I was neither impressed nor worried.
 
That being said, I am a Golden State Warrior fan, albeit before the bandwagon got filled: I was there when the Warriors won 48 games and missed the playoffs, when former general manager Larry Riley drafted guard Stephen Curry from Davidson and when the front office traded fan-favorite guard Monta Ellis for an oft-injured center in Andrew Bogut. 
 
Suffice it to say, I’ve experienced my fair share of disappointments as a Warrior fan but now, I’m basking in the futility of other teams. 
 
Which ultimately brings me to my point: going to a Laker game as a fan of a division rival while at the same time being unbiased.
 
On Nov. 11, I was fortunate enough to visit Staples Center with my peers from 22 West Media to get a behind-the-scenes look (shoutout to 22 West Media for setting this up!) at how media members cover Laker games. On this particular night, the Lakers were taking on the rebuilding Atlanta Hawks led by Trae Young, the transcendent star from Oklahoma. 
 
After arriving at Staples Center and meeting up with my group, we were greeted by Noah Camarena, the Media Relations Coordinator for the Lakers. Giving us our media passes, Noah brought us courtside and showed us where certain media members for both teams would be situated. 
 
 
Then he showed us around the bowels of Staples Center, specifically where media members can get food and drinks for free, before or during the game. Lastly, he showed us where our seats would be. 
 
Taking an elevator to the top of the arena, we found that our seats had a surprisingly good view; although we were at the highest point in the arena, we were still able to clearly see players on both sides. Not only that, but we were able to see all the fans in attendance, which were quite a lot, considering that the Hawks were tanking. 
 
We initially expected the game to be a blowout of sorts, but the game was actually competitive in the fourth quarter. With the Lakers leading by one, 107-106 with less than 10 seconds left, Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce called for Young to have an isolation on top of the key.
 
Though Young sped past his defender, the newly-acquired Tyson Chandler was there and blocked his shot to end the game, much to the applause of the crowd.
 
Although I wasn’t a fan of either squad, I must admit that the atmosphere inside Staples Center makes this one memorable experience. Being able to go backstage and get free food while taking in the sights and sounds of an actual NBA game as a quasi-media member for the night is something that I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to do. 
 
Someday, I hope to be able to do that in the future, though not as a spectator, but rather an actual member of the media. Until then, I can enjoy the memories.