Welcome basketball fans to a sold out Fabulous Forum to see your world champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Tonight, basketball in Los Angeles will take a little trip down memory lane back to the Forum as the Lakers play a preseason game in the place that was their home for more than three decades and through six NBA titles. It was place where Wilt and West dominated, where Magic and Worthy brought “Showtime” to Los Angeles. In the 1980s, the Forum Club was the hardest place to get into in Los Angeles and Dancing Berry was a highlight. The only thing missing tonight will be the voice of Chick Hearn.
Today, the Forum is a church. There is no scoreboard, the Lakers will hang LED screens where the scoreboard would be. They had to transport their floor from Staples Center over to the Forum for the game. Things will feel a little different.
The Forum was built by former Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke, who hired the same architects who built Madison Square Garden and the LAX Theme building. It was Hearn that nicknamed it fabulous — Cooke liked that moniker so much the legendarily tight-fisted owner promised Hearn “a little something extra” in his paycheck. When Hearn opened that envelope, in addition to a regular check was a wallet-sized picture of the owner.
If this were the 80s, a Lakers and Golden State Warriors match up would promise an entertaining night of basketball. Tonight, it’s a preseason game, a second match up of teams that the Lakers dominated two nights ago. On the court, it may be the opposite of truly exciting.
Only two current Lakers every played looking up at the orange seats of the Forum — Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Those two have mixed memories of the Forum — what became the dominant three-peat Lakers was a team couldn’t get it done at the Forum. There were some disappointing losses. Everything seemed to turn around at the Staples Center (well, that and bringing in some guy named Phil Jackson).
Jackson played at the Forum too, as a member of the New York Knicks (not to mention beating the Lakers in the building more than a few times when he was coach of the Chicago Bulls). But when reporters asked him what he remembered most from the building, he went a different direction.
"I think the rats are one of the things you remember a lot," he said. "They were very large rats that ran around under those bleachers."
That’s not what Lakers fans remember, they remember six titles and probably the most entertaining basketball team ever. And for one night, it will be fun to travel back in time again.