Saturday, June 19, 2010



Really. Just what we needed.

All the Celtics had to do was make a few shots down the stretch and none of this would have happened.

Instead, we got hordes of pricks outside the Staples Center Thursday night. Certain pricks in particular decided it would be a good idea to pick fights, throw beer bottles, and similar activities that smear our otherwise spotless image. The po-po pinched a few of them, per procedure—a procedure that evidently included watching motionless from a few yards away as departing cars drove through a gauntlet of rioters. But they didn’t seem to catch up to the Olympic Boulevard Natural Selection gang, who wandered onto the Santa Monica Freeway.

In the end, the police made at least 42 arrests.

(If you think I’m picking on Laker fans, consider that this was the same day that Mexico beat France in World Cup play. How did our sizable Mexican population react? With giant, spontaneous celebrations in the streets. How many were arrested after their country all but locked up a second-round appearance in the World Cup? ZERO.)

Like most things in L.A., the Laker riot coverage was made worse by our local media. On the one hand, the helicopters gave us nice real-time video of the unrest as it got unrestful. But as much as news directors love inane improvisation by pseudo-reporters, the press conference by all their man-crushes proved too irresistible. So we were treated to a split-screen of Pau Gasol answering questions while we watched our fellow citymen discover felonious ways to relieve stress. Eventually, the violence grew too great to ignore, so channel 9 finally cut away to give a more journalistic overview of the chaos. But not channel 5. No matter how bad things got, channel 5 just couldn’t cut away from the irresistible Pau Gasol.

Then Kobe Bryant came on. Understand, no matter how professional, how macho, how cool the sports reporters are in L.A., they all want to marry Kobe Bryant. Okay, Fred Roggin probably doesn’t, and there may be other exceptions, but by and large, every time I see a reporter talking to Kobe Bryant, I half expect him to leap into his arms and French kiss the guy.

Sure enough, as soon as Mr. “I Sucked” stepped up to the mikes, channel 9 couldn’t resist. They went back to split-screening the love-fest with the hate-fest. Then all the 10:00 news programs gave us wall-to-wall Laker championship/violence coverage as well, cutting away only for the weather—and other sports. Even the 11:00 news shows did likewise. BP’s Tony Hayward couldn’t have asked for a better distraction to knock him off the news.

But on a night when violence hitched a ride on the tails of our champions, and before the local news could shove all that civic hubris down our open throats, the TV gave us an accidental treat. Immediately after the win, ABC’s on-court correspondents were racing around interviewing every Laker they could find, who obligingly replied how lovely the whole evening had turned out.

And then, one of them found Mr. Ron Artest.

Artest was the guy who was at the center of a brawl with Detroit Pistons’ fans, enduring, as a result, his suspension for most of the 2005 season—one of the longest suspensions in NBA history. Not five years later, we got to see the same man slaying the last demon from his violent past. He was humble and genuinely joyous over the Lakers’ win, going so far as to hug ESPN’s Doris Burke at the end of her interview with him. He also had the presence of mind to thank his psychiatrist on national television.

Irony and shrink-worshiping on live TV. Now that’s an example Angelenos can be proud of.

No comments: