According to The 2010 United States Census, Los Angeles, California is home to over 3.7 million people which makes it the second largest city in America, but The City of Angels is not taking a backseat to any other metropolis in America as far as sports these days. The Los Angeles Kings of The National Hockey League are fresh off of their first Stanley Cup Championship. The USC Trojans are off of a two-year probation handed down by The NCAA and they enter the 2012 college football season ranked as the number one team in the land. The UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team should once again be a top-ranked team when the college basketball season begins in the fall. The Los Angeles Clippers have finally become relevant in The National Basketball Association as All-Stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul led them to The Western Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2006. The Los Angeles Lakers have made more appearances in The NBA Finals than any other team and they are looking for a 33rd trip during the upcoming season after signing All-Star point guard Steve Nash and acquiring All-Star center Dwight Howard from The Orlando Magic. The Los Angeles Galaxy are one of the most popular teams in Major League Soccer as they are led by midfielder David Beckham and forward Landon Donovan. The Galaxy are also the reigning MLS Champions. In Major League Baseball, The Los Angeles Angels signed nine-time All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols to a ten-year, $264 million deal during the offseason in the hopes of winning The World Series for the first time since 2002. The Los Angeles Dodgers could not sit by and allow The Angels to have all the fun and on March 2, The Dodgers were sold to The Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC which included former Lakers point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
The Dodgers were sold to the group for over $2 billion. Since that time, The Dodgers have been proactive on the spending front. All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp recently signed an eight-year, $160 million extension with The Dodgers while his teammate right fielder Andre Ethier signed a five-year, $85 million extension to remain in Tinseltown. Now Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti pulled off a blockbuster trade last weekend as he acquired outfielder Carl Crawford, utility man Nick Punto, starting pitcher Josh Beckett, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from The Boston Red Sox. Prior to this trade, Colletti also acquired All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez from The Miami Marlins on July 25.
This is reminiscent of the 80s when L.A. was at the center of the sports world. The Dodgers won The World Series in 1981 and 1988. The Los Angeles Raiders won The Super Bowl in 1983. The Lakers won five NBA Championships in the decade and The City of Los Angeles hosted The Summer Olympics in 1984.
Last May, The Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles hosted four NBA playoff games and two NHL playoff games over four day period which created an unbelievable atmosphere for fans and arena workers as the ice and hardwood were shifted around like a giant maze.
L.A. is home to the bright lights, glamour, and long stretch limousines which is why I moved my office to Beverly Hills several years ago. Go figure that Los Angeles is becoming the center of the sports world without the luxury of having a National Football League team as The Raiders and Rams left town in 1995 in favor of Oakland and St. Louis respectively. All sports teams in Los Angeles are infamous for attracting Hollywood celebrities to their games. Jack Nicholson and Penny Marshall are frequently at Laker games. Comedian Billy Crystal is a season-ticket holder for The Clippers. When The Trojans are playing football games at The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, you can see anyone on the sideline from rapper Snoop Lion to actor Denzel Washington.
Having high-profile teams in a high-profile market such as Los Angeles comes with a certain level of expectations, but over the years coaches here tend to live up to those expectations. Pat Riley won four NBA Championships with The Lakers as their head coach while Phil Jackson won five. Tommy Lasorda managed The Dodgers for 21 seasons and won two World Series Championships while legendary Bruins head coach John Wooden led UCLA to ten NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships. When you win in L.A., everyone wants a piece of you, whether it is for a commercial or a television show, but losing is tough as well because the fans expect you to win.
Current managers and coaches such as Don Mattingly of The Dodgers and Mike Brown of The Lakers know that their respective jobs just got a little harder after their respective front offices created superstar filled lineups, but like any other high-budget production in Tinseltown, these teams are spending money in the hopes of producing blockbusters. Even with The Hollywood backdrop and Sunset Boulevard, L.A. sports currently might be the best show in town.