Ron Artest: Lakers fans have 'swag'
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers fans are ranked No. 15 on GQ's list of the 15 worst sports fans in America in the magazine's April 2011 edition.
Members of the Lakers didn't argue with many of the points made by GQ about their fans, but rather offered a different perspective on what their fans' actions meant.
Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, who was quoted in the story as saying the focus of the fans of the purple and gold is "sometimes not on the court ... it's on the people in the crowd," explained that should be expected from a fan base that follows a team that has won 16 championships, second most in NBA history.
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"I think they're accustomed to success," Jackson said after Lakers practice Thursday. "I think that's kind of a natural reaction when you have a lot of success, people enjoy the show rather than feel they have to encourage the team with an element of fanaticism."
The article also focused on how expensive taking in a game at Staples Center can be, citing the $21 nachos on the menu at Hyde Lounge, a nightclub located inside the arena.
"We have a lot of fans with swag," said Lakers forward Ron Artest. "But the fans with swag, they're paying for the seats. The seats are overpriced and they're paying for them."
The Lakers have the most expensive ticket in the league for the 2010-11 season with an average price of $99.25, according to Team Marketing Report.
"We have swag," Artest continued. "There's not a lot of fans that have swag. There's a lot of fans that have a lot of energy, but in L.A., our season-ticket holders, they come to the game with Grey Poupon, a slice of bread and some silverware. It's good. It's a different type of thing. They're eating caviar. They can get manicures, pedicures on the floor. How many arenas can you get a pedicure and watch the game?"
The article also calls Lakers fans the "fairest of America's fair-weather fans," a claim that Jackson did not totally dispute.
"We do not have vociferous fans," Jackson said. "We don't have fans like Utah that are going to boo ... on every call. I think they're knowledgeable fans, but they're the best followers in the league, there's no doubt about it."
The worst fans on GQ's list were Philadelphia Eagles fans at No. 2, topped only by Philadelphia Phillies fans at No. 1. Phillies fans solidified their spot, in part, for throwing batteries in the direction of former Philadelphia draft pick J.D. Drew in 1999.
Jackson chuckled when remembering how Lakers fans acted like Philly fans during their loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers back on Christmas Day 2009.
"I think that was one of the best objects ever thrown," Jackson said. "A foam finger!"
At least one person in the Lakers' organization thoroughly disagreed with GQ's list. Lakers executive vice president of business operations Jeanie Buss made her case via Twitter on Wednesday.
"Everyone wants what the Lakers HAVE," tweeted Buss, daughter of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, "that would be the best fans in the world! Thank you!!"
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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