- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In On the Soapbox
Lakers, Dodgers, USC football, and UCLA basketball are all doing great things.
Whether it is Dodgers Stadium, Staples Center, the Coliseum, or Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles is the city to watch super teams dominate the opposition.
Photo by Jeff Lewis
Please do not argue with the Sports Editor. That’s like matching up against one of Los Angeles’ super teams. It’s just a bad idea. Illustration by David G. Brown
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
A little more than a year ago, May 26, 2011, to be exact, I wrote about how bad it was to be a Los Angeles Sports fan.
The Lakers had just flamed out of the playoffs, they were looking for a new coach to replace Phil Jackson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was complaining about not having a statue outside of Staples Center.
The Dodgers were dealing with the mess that Frank and Jamie McCourt created.
USC had come off of a sub par season that ended without a bowl game because they were on probation.
It was depressing to talk about UCLA football with Rick Neuheisel leading that sinking ship, and their basketball team had been bounced out of the tournament in the early rounds. And USC basketball was pretty forgettable too.
Well things have changed big time over the past 15 months. The Lakers have a team of All-Stars, the Dodgers have been sold to an ownership group that includes Magic Johnson, and they are putting together an All Star team of their own, USC’s football team is off of their post season ban and they have the No. 1 team in the nation, UCLA’s basketball team had one of the top recruiting classes in the nation and they are national championship contenders.
What a difference a year makes! Even Kareem can be happy because he is finally getting his statue. Well, he’ll surely find something else to complain about.
The Dodgers have made the biggest turnaround, and this new ownership group is showing that they have one goal in mind. That is to win the World Series, and they aren’t wasting any time trying to get there.
With the blockbuster trades that they have made over the last month, they are showing that they are willing to roll the dice to be a contender. They are making maneuvers like they are the Yankees, or the Lakers.
The Dodgers have been aggressive, adding Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, and Carl Crawford, all big time players. And that’s to go along with Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. That sounds a lot like a Yankees roster, or a Lakers roster. That’s a championship roster.
The buzz around this team is so great that 84-year-old Vin Scully has decided to come back to the broadcasting booth for a 64th year next season. No way does he miss out on the Dodgers first World Series title since 1988.
Dodger fans are also back on board. Last season the ball club had their worse attendance in two decades, as the fans boycotted the McCourts. The Dodgers dropped to 11th in attendance with only 36,236 fans per game, which dropped them out of the top five, where they usually are. In 2009, when the Dodgers made it to the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers were 1st in attendance with 46,440 fans per game.
With the new ownership group, the Dodgers have seen a spike in attendance, with 41,475 fans per game, putting them at 5th in the league. With this new lineup, good luck in getting a ticket over the next month.
The only question now is if the Dodgers and Lakers are going to be champions at the same time for the first time since the last time the Dodgers won the World Series. Interesting, Magic was a part of that as the Lakers star point guard, and now he will be a part of it as one of the Dodgers’ owners.
The Dodgers will have the first crack at a championship, and then USC, who has a starting unit on both sides of the ball of All-Americans. There is not much behind them, but if they stay healthy, they won’t have to worry about the lack of depth. Outside of Oregon, there will not be much competition in the PAC 12, but there are a couple of SEC teams waiting for USC.
UCLA basketball is not going to be left out of the mix, because they not only brought in a few high school All-Americans, they brought in difference makers. They brought in gunners. These are not players to build the program around long term, these are players who have the goal of winning a national championship this coming season and then go to the NBA.
UCLA has taken their collection of talented athletes on the road, as they are dominating China right now. UCLA defeated Tsinghua University 116-68, and then they had a 72-31 victory against Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Those victories are not much to get excited over, because the competition level is not all that good, but one good sign is that UCLA is running an up tempo offense, which is drastically different from what head coach Ben Howland normally runs. The knock on Howland is that he will not let his star athletes shine on offense, and that he would rather grind out a slow, defensive game. Well Howland may be reading the writing on the wall-win now or it’s a wrap for him at UCLA. If he wants to avoid that fate, he has to allow star players to run around and be stars.
The city of Los Angeles is on the verge of winning multiple titles across multiple sports. Even the Kings are in on the act after they won the Stanley Cup for the first time ever a few months ago. The only thing missing right now is a NFL team. But don’t worry, one will be here playing in Downtown by 2017.
If UCLA football and USC basketball can get their acts together…well, lets not be greedy.
And lets not forget that high school football has started and basketball is just around the corner. This is awesome!