L.A. championship wins mean more to fans this time around

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The Los Angeles Dodgers and Lakers both won championships in October. This year is the first since 1988 that both teams have won titles simultaneously. (Illustration by Dani Rebolledo)
By Lesly Gonzalez

Although the year has been ripe with gloom, Southern California received some sunshine with the Dodgers and Lakers both winning a championship this fall. 

But COVID-19 and the regulations the pandemic requires as cases rise and fall have cast doubt on the possibility of the traditional celebratory parades seen when Los Angeles wins a title. With the majority of California in the most-restrictive purple tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, it is unlikely a parade will happen anytime soon. But the championship wins remain especially meaningful to Southern California fans.

To many fans, the Dodgers and Lakers win was emotional due to the long wait for a championship to return to L.A. Many fans have also lost loved ones who they used to watch games with — die hard fans who did not get to see their teams rise to glory once again.

“I used to watch the games with my father,” said Brian Ixta, of Chino. “Unfortunately, he passed a few years ago and all i could think about after the Dodgers won was how happy and excited he would have been if he was here.”

The untimely death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash Jan. 26 also added to the meaning of the teams’ championship wins this year. The Lakers dedicated the win to number 24, tweeting “job’s finished” Oct. 12 in response to Bryant’s famous quote “job’s not finished” from the 2009 NBA Finals.

LeBron James’ tweets have reflected the importance of these wins to Los Angeles, a city dying to celebrate something despite COVID-19 safety restrictions.

“Man, can we please have a parade,” James asked on Twitter, before answering his own question. “I know I know we can’t but d— I want to celebrate with our @Lakers and @Dodgers fans. LA is the city of champions.”

The Dodgers began conducting a drive-thru celebration at Chavez Ravine on Nov. 27. For $55 per vehicle, fans can watch a light show and displays honoring the team’s victory from the safety of their cars. The drive-thru experience will run through Dec. 24, but tickets must be purchased ahead of time.

Eric Garcetti, the city’s mayor, has also proposed an event at the Griffith Park Observatory in north Los Angeles. He said on social media that he is open to suggestions.

“Let’s talk,” Garcetti tweeted in response to James on Oct 27. “I’m down for anything safe. And so proud of you and the team. Thank you for ending our 32-year drought. And @KingJames you and the Lakers deserve the same. Thank you both and the @Dodgers and @Lakers for the best single month in LA sports history.”

Vincent Robinson, aDodgers fan from Long Beach, is open to the idea of one celebration for both teams.

“Once would be good enough,” Robinson said. “They don’t want to draw massive crowds twice. We just hope that L.A. can keep it under control.”

Robinson, like many fans, remains hopeful for the future.

“(COVID-19) numbers going down will get us closer and closer to what every Angelino wants: a parade,” he said.

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