Commentary

Lakers vs. Spurs: Comparing road trips

Originally Published: February 15, 2011
By Vincent Thomas | Special to Page 2

On Jan. 31, 2010, Kobe Bryant hit the winning shot against the Celtics in Boston. It was the Lakers' seventh game in 10 days on the road, as the Grammy Awards took over Staples Center.

Hours after Kobe's game-winner in Boston, Taylor Swift stood on a stage in Staples and accepted the Album of the Year award for "Fearless."

Kanye West did not join her on stage.

This past Sunday, in the fifth game of a seven-game, two-week trip, Kobe shot 8-of-18 in a loss at Orlando as Arcade Fire closed out the Grammys after winning Album of the Year for "The Suburbs."

Meantime, the Spurs are in the midst of a nine-game road trip lasting nearly three weeks as cowboys, rodeo clowns and farm animals take over the AT&T Center for the San Antonio Stock and Rodeo Show.

It's an annual rite for the Spurs and Lakers to be forced out of their home arenas as they embark on two-week road trips (respectively referred to as the rodeo and Grammy road trips). The Hollywood Lakers get to steppin' for the rock stars and, deep in the heart of Texas, the Spurs make way for bulls and heifers.

This has been a major recurring story during recent seasons because the road is a treacherous place, even for contenders. The Lakers have had their issues in the past, but are currently 4-2. The Spurs are 6-2 this year after going just 4-4 last season.

So with these squads temporarily evicted from their houses by Jonas Brothers rehearsals and Swifty Swine Pig Races, Page 2 provides a little more information about each event:

• Rodeo clowns (aka rodeo protection athletes) are a big deal. They protect bull riders from getting their sternums horn-speared, and they entertain the crowd between events. Leon Coffee (a famous 28-year vet) and his crew are in San Antonio. Funny thing is that all their makeup combined doesn't equal what Joan Rivers cakes on her face.

• Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and even Magic Johnson have won Grammys, but Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and the Beach Boys have been stiff-armed Heisman-style (which is significantly worse when you consider that Baha Men won for "Who Let The Dogs Out"). Mike Johnson, who's lost the National Finals Rodeo 23 times, will be in San Antonio hoping to qualify again.

• The rodeo doesn't have a problem with fans interrupting competition because, as spokeswoman Susan Kanode says, "the fact that our competition involves large farm animals might be a little intimidating." This isn't the case with the Grammys, though, as 50 Cent randomly strutted across the stage to protest Evanescence beating him for the Best New Artist Award in 2004. Old Dirty Bastard bogarted the stage to let everyone know that "Wu-Tang is for the children" and "Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best." And, of course, we all remember Soy Bomb interrupting Bob Dylan in 1998. Security used the weeks ahead of this year's Grammys to prepare -- just in case Justin Bieber and Drake wanted to go gangster and try to take over Esperanza Spaulding's Best New Artist acceptance speech.

• Cowgirls are hot and everything, but will anything top J-Lo's taped-on Versace dress at the 2000 Grammys? Probably not. Although, Rihanna at least tried.

• Lady Antebellum performed at the rodeo Saturday night, then jetted to LA to perform Song of the Year winner "Need You Now" at the Grammys on Sunday.

• Trevor Brazile, who competes in tie-down and team roping, has won 14 world titles and earned about $2.5 million during his career. Jay-Z and Beyonce, who were both up for Grammys this year (Jay-Z won Best Rap Song for "Empire State of Mind"), make about that much combined for one concert.

• Both the Grammys and the San Antonio Stock and Rodeo Show are spectacles. Deciding which one is more entertaining depends on the audience. This much, however, we know: It'll be tough for any athlete to top the pregnant M.I.A. performing "Swagger Like Us" on her due date.

Vincent Thomas is a SLAM magazine columnist and a frequent contributing columnist and commentator for ESPN. He can be reached at vincethomas79@gmail.com or @vincecathomas on Twitter.


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