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City of champions deserves a rally
The Morning Column (11/9/20)
The Los Angeles metropolitan area has 11 major league professional sports teams but only the Lakers and Dodgers consistently move the needle year-round.
L.A. is often viewed as a fickle sports town but it’s more demanding than front-running. It isn’t a city that is going to sellout arenas and stadiums for an inferior product. Angelinos force teams to sign the best players and coaches if they want to be relevant in a town where championships are the only currency that matters.
The Dodgers have won six World Series titles and 12 National League pennants since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. The Lakers have won 12 NBA championships and 26 Western Conference titles since moving to L.A. in 1960. Despite their success over the past 60 years in Los Angeles, last month was just the second time and first since 1988 when both teams won the championship in the same year and the first time they’ve done so in the same month.
Both teams have stated that they will celebrate their championships at a later date when it is safe to do so. Unfortunately, if the Lakers don’t celebrate before the 2020-21 NBA regular season starts in December and the Dodgers don’t celebrate before the start of spring training in February, it’s likely both teams and their fans won’t have a proper celebration unless they are celebrating a repeat. It’s hard to imagine either team having a rally or parade in 2021 (or later) for winning in 2020 if they fall short of a title next year.
While most oddsmakers have listed the Lakers and Dodgers as early favorites to repeat next year, there’s no guarantee they will and there’s certainly no guarantee if they do that Los Angeles will be ready in 2021 to safely stage a parade where 500,000 to 2 million fans would line the streets, which was the turnout for the Lakers’ last championship celebration in 2010.
That’s why the Lakers and Dodgers should team up to hold a dual celebration around Thanksgiving. It would be a first-of-its-kind celebration for a first-of-its-kind month in Los Angeles sports history. The celebration could be held on a stage in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium surrounded by about 1,000 cars in a set-up similar to what the Dodgers had for their drive-in viewing parties during the World Series.
This is going to be the new normal for a while. When Joe Biden became president-elect on Saturday, he held a drive-in rally in Wilmington, Delaware, which was followed by a firework show. That’s how I’d envision the Lakers and Dodgers championship rally going. While there would be only 1,000 cars on-site, it would be a made-for-television event for the rest of the city to enjoy at home. There would also be a charity component to the event during the holidays to benefit those in Los Angeles affected by COVID-19.
The Lakers and Dodgers have already teamed up with Fanatics on dual city championship merchandise and executives from both teams from the Dodgers’ Magic Johnson and Lon Rosen to the Lakers’ Jeanie Buss and Linda Rambis have known each other for 40 years. As great as it would be to celebrate the Lakers and Dodgers’ championships with a proper parade and/or rally in 2021 or whenever it’s safe, it’s just not realistic on multiple fronts. Both teams found creative ways to finish the season and engage fans on their way to winning the championship last month and should use that same creativity to come together to celebrate their championships while also helping many of their fans in need before shifting their focusing to next season.
Just when you think the Chargers can’t possibly find another new and dramatic way to lose, well, they do. Sunday’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders was perhaps the most gut-wrenching considering the team rushed the field and celebrated their walk-off win when Justin Herbert seemingly hit tight end Donald Parham for a four-yard touchdown. The score, however, was overturned after a review and the Raiders quickly rushed the field to celebrate. The Chargers are probably the most exciting 2-6 team in NFL history and have lost all six of their games by a combined 24 points.
The only coach in Los Angeles on a hotter seat than Chargers coach Anthony Lynn is USC coach Clay Helton. After USC came back from a 27-14 deficit with less than three minutes left in Saturday’s season opener against Arizona State at the Coliseum, Helton is safe for at least another week but he is just 14-13 in his last 27 games as USC’s head coach. There’s simply too much talent at USC for the Trojans to be a .500 football team since Dec. 2, 2017.