The timeouts seem to go quickly at the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers do many of the same timeout antics you see at the Ford Center. Kiss cam (called something else). Dance cam. Halfcourt shots. Dancing girls, (By the way, colleague Darnell Mayberry says the Laker Girls are way overrated).
Anyway, the Lakers don’t have a mascot, as far as I could tell. Unless you count Tom Arnold.
Tom Arnold got famous 20 years ago by marrying Roseanne Barr, who got famous by being funny in a great television show, “Roseanne,” but neither has done much to warrant that fame since.
I noticed Arnold on Sunday at the Staples Center just before the second half. He walked by our seats sweating like he had just left a workout gym, which I’m betting he hadn’t. Arnold was grinning like a fifth-grader who had just pulled the fire alarm. Never seen anyone look goofier in my entire life.
But that’s part of the fun of a Laker game. Star-gazing. Sometimes, you bump into celebrities without even knowing it. Literally. After the game, we were walking to the press room, and Darnell said, “Congratulations, you just bumped into Andy Garcia.”
Sorry. Never saw him. Probably wouldn’t have known it if I had. I know he’s a big star (loved “The Untouchables”). but heck, I really don’t keep up with Hollywood much anymore.
We also passed Teri Hatcher in the tunnel, and I’ve got to say, she looks much better in person than on television. She had some plastic surgery a few years ago which I thought ruined her looks, but maybe TV distorted her appearance. She looked pretty good.
Penny Marshall, a Clippers fan, was there. So Laverne is accounted, but there was no sign of Shirley (Cindy Williams).
The big screen showed Jennifer Garner, but I never saw her live. And of course, Jack Nicholson sat courtside, just a few seats down from Scott Brooks.
But star-gazing is not the best timeout entertainment. People-watching is. The Staples Center is full of, uh, characters. People of all shapes and sizes and wardrobe. It’s a meat market, if you go for that sort of thing, but it’s much more than that. It’s one zany-looking person after another.
Greater Los Angeles is populated by millions of hard-working Americans who wouldn’t stand out in Milwaukee or Louisville or Albuquerque. And dang few of them attend seem to attend Laker games. Laker games seem to be the ultimate stereotype of Los Angeles, from cosmetically-altered women to flamboyantly-attired men, with some vice-versa thrown in.
The Staples Center also is heavy on suites, 160 in all, and it seems like 1,600. Triple decks of suites line the middle of the arena. It makes for a little hollow flow of the crowd. You’ve got fans sitting in the lower bowl, and you’ve got fans sitting high — way high — in the upper bowl, and then you’ve got this huge ring between them.
The noise level seemed adequate, but I’ll bet the Staples Center would be much louder without all those suites. And not nearly as financially beneficial.
But all in all, a game at the Staples Center is a lot of fun. The basketball’s not bad, either.