From NCAA Heroes To NBA Enemies: A Lakers Fan’s Dilemma in the NBA Playoffs

While I was growing up in Los Angeles in the '80s and '90s I pledged my allegiance to four professional sports teams and a college team—the Lakers, Dodgers, Kings, Raiders, and UCLA Bruins.

I chose the Lakers over the Clippers, the Dodgers over the Angels, and the Raiders over the Rams—mostly because the Clippers moved to L.A. from San Diego and the Angels and Rams played their games in Orange County.

Those were easy choices.

I picked the Bruins over the Trojans mostly because I grew up less than two miles from the UCLA campus in Westwood. As a kid, I spent many afternoons bowling and playing video games or shooting pool at Ackerman Union.

My friends and I would take the No. 2 Bus along Sunset to Hilgard Ave. where we'd watch the football team practicing at Spaulding Field or see the NBA pros playing pickup hoops at the Wooden Center during the summer.

Through the '80s and most of the '90s my allegiances rarely crossed paths. My worst nightmare was that my favorite Bruins would go on to play for the rivals of my favorite professional teams.

I dreaded that I would have to root against my college heroes one day. There's no handbook for how to deal with a situation like that. In a perfect world, you can root for the success of those guys as they enter the pros but never have to face them in a playoff game. If your team is knocked out then it's totally acceptable to root for those guys, except if they play for your team's biggest rival.

UCLA has produced a number of great football and basketball players over the last 20-plus years. The most successful football player to come out of UCLA during that time frame was probably Troy Aikman.

I was lucky to avoid a Raiders-Cowboys Super Bowl, and that wasn't because Aikman wasn't good enough to get there.

I always rooted for Aikman in those Super Bowls because I was sick and tired of USC fans talking about t...

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