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Oh, Those Lakers Fans

I'm a Jazz fan. Those of you outside of Utah are thinking "Nothing wrong with that. Jazz is good music." If you're from Utah you're thinking "I feel your pain. Will those guys ever get an NBA championship?" There's a car dealership in town called Stockton-Malone. The joke is that you shouldn't buy a car there 'cause you'll never get the title.

Take last year, for example. The Jazz should have won the title. They were predestined to win the title. The Lakers didn't deserve to win.

Last week I found myself on a plane with a bunch of Lakers fans. That's right, I was flying back from California and was sitting right in the middle of a group of dyed-in-the-wool Californians—they were from the Hollywood area, to be exact.

It started out innocent enough, you know, the 'So where are you from?' question. When I said I was from Utah they started in: "Boy, too bad about those Jazz. We really showed you guys in the playoffs. Ha-ha."

I started to defend my team, then one of them made the shift. "You poor guys, you support a loser basketball team and you also supported that George W. Bush."

Now everyone knows that I have no opinions on political issues. Whenever I want to know how to think about politics or the environment, I just listen to the opinion of somebody who makes their living reading scripts written by somebody else. So I simply said "What do you mean?"

My Hollywood friend said "Yeah, the Jazz can't win a title and Bush can't win an election."

I replied that I thought he had won the election.

Oh, boy. I had the whole cabin coming at me then. "No," one lady said, "He didn't win the election. He stole the election."

I wondered how one goes about stealing an election.

"Well, sure," one guy explained. "Everybody knows Gore got more of the popular vote than Bush did."

Anxious to increase my feeble understanding of Civics, I ventured to ask "But aren't elections based on the Electoral College? Isn't that how it's set up in the constitution?"

Somebody else jumped in. "That's right. But if Bush hadn't won in Florida, Gore would have won the electoral vote, too. Huh? Huh? What about that? Huh?"

I paused. "But Bush did win in Florida."

"He cheated," one of the Lakers fans offered.

I said nothing, so another Hollywood-ite tried to help me understand. "The vote count in Florida was all wrong."

What about the recount, I wondered.

It was wrong, too.

I asked if anyone had ever done a count in Florida that showed Gore won. There was silence for a long time. Finally the guy who seemed like the ring leader (he looked a lot like Martin Sheen) said in a very wise voice, "Bush stole the election in Florida. That's all there is to it."

Wow. I was tingling from being in the midst of such great logical and reasoning abilities. When I could finally speak again, I expressed my empathy.

"See, that's kind of how we feel about the Jazz and the playoffs. We think something went wrong and the Lakers shouldn't have won."

They all laughed and hooted. Finally a blond gal that looked kind of like an older version of Jessica Lange (I haven't seen her for so long it's hard to remember) said "Oh, you Jazz fans. When are you ever going to just get over it? It's done. It's ancient history, for crying out loud."

"No," I protested, "Hear me out. Do you know that the Jazz scored more total points in the regular season? That's a fact."

"So?" Someone asked.

"They scored more points," I said. "That's what the game is all about, scoring more points. Isn't it?"

"Hello?" another lady said. "They don't, like, add up like the total points, you know. It's, like, how many games you win, Hello? In fact, it's like whether you win, like, the right games, you know. Hello-o?"

"Maybe so, but if we'd won in the first round of the playoffs, we could have gone all the way."

"Did you win in the first round of the playoffs?" This was asked by a dark-haired fellow with a perpetual smirk. He looked something like Alec Baldwin.

"Well, we didn't win. But we were robbed."

"And how were you robbed?"

I was frustrated. "I mean, we should have won . . . they should have won. The Jazz should have won. They deserved it. I mean . . . it's their turn."

Martin Sheen's voice took on a gentle tone. "You mean you really, really wanted them to win and you really, really wish they had won."

I didn't say anything.

A gal with a big nose and eyes too close together (almost like the weight of the nose was pulling them in) asked me "You know what I think?"

Now I'm as anxious as anybody else to know what someone from Hollywood thinks, so I nodded my head.

"I think you guys are just sore losers."

Frank Leany

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