Jimmy Goldstein of NBA.com wrote:
I moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s as a graduate student at UCLA and immediately began to attend all the Lakers games and sit courtside (back then, courtside seats cost $15 per game). I had come from Milwaukee, where I had worked as a statistician for what was then the Milwaukee Hawks (now known as the Atlanta Hawks). I was a teenager, and I became hooked on the NBA at an early age to begin a lifetime involvement.
When I arrived in Los Angeles and began to attend Lakers games, I was still a big fan of the Hawks, even though the Hawks had left Milwaukee. The Hawks and Lakers were rivals, and I wasn't about to abandon my loyalty to the Hawks just because I was a student in Los Angeles.
Thus was the origin of my becoming an "anti-Lakers" fan. I hoped that the Lakers would lose because it would help the Hawks. And so I quietly pulled for the opposition, clapping when they scored a basket.
Not all the fans around me appreciated my behavior. One fan, a well-known attorney, met with the Lakers' general manager and demanded that my floor seat be taken away from me. He was told that I had the right to root for whomever I wanted.
As the years went by, my attachment to the Hawks waned, but my anti-Lakers sentiment became more firmly entrenched for a number of reasons. First, I usually pull for the underdog in any sports competition, and the Lakers were getting to The Finals or winning championships far too often for me. I like it when a different team becomes a title contender each year.
Secondly, I didn't like it that the Lakers were able to attract so many superstars away from other teams. I like level competition, and the Lakers upset league balance with players like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, and many others leaving their teams to live in Los Angeles. (Wilt and I became good friends, and he once told me of his displeasure over my pulling for the opposition, but nothing changed.)
Thirdly, it is my nature to separate from the pack. And with 19,000 people cheering for one team, I am usually moved to cheer for the other. And when they show their bias in regard to officiating, I become more firmly against them.
In addition, I must point out that I follow all 30 NBA teams very closely and consider myself to be an "NBA fan", as opposed to being a fan of one particular team. So when I see a team in person that I only get to see once or twice a year, it is natural for me to get more excited by that team than one I watch 50 times a year.
Finally, my antagonism toward the Lakers is derived from the fact that the ticket prices are always raised after a good season. My $15 ticket now costs $2,800 per game. Why pull for a team when I know that their success will cost me money?
Me, a Lakers fan? Hardly
Many fans see me at all the Lakers games and assume I am a huge fan of the Lakers. Almost every day a stranger will approach me and say "Oh, you are the big Lakers fan." And I respond, "No, I am an anti-Lakers fan." In amazement they say, "Then why do you go to the games?" They don't understand that someone can attend because of his love for the game.
In recent years, though, more and more people have become aware that I root against the Lakers, the foremost being Laker players and coaches. Most of the players continue to be friendly to me before and after games (Metta World Peace always came over to me at halftime to say hello). They know that I like them on a personal level in spite of my actions during a game.
But there are a few exceptions. Phil Jackson and I were good friends when he was coaching the Bulls. But our friendship cooled when he joined the Lakers. Kobe Bryant even instructed another Laker star, with whom I was quite friendly, not to talk to me. But every now and then, Kobe surprises me by offering a warm hello.
Jerry Buss was always extremely nice to me. He used to joke about my anti-Lakers stance. Similarly, many fans rub it in good-naturedly when the Lakers win and I give it back to them when the Lakers lose. But a few fans don't take my actions lightly, such as the night-club promoter who wouldn't let me into his club because I was a "Laker hater."