Throw a rock in this city, and you'll likely hit a famous person claiming to be a Lakers fan. Some are legit, some not so much. Saturday afternoon on ESPNLA.com On Air, Andy and I had the pleasure of welcoming two-time Grammy winner and Claremont native Ben Harper into the studio. He's a common sight around Staples Center, and we'd heard he had a true passion for the purple and gold. Still, you never know. Or we didn't, until he described the epiphany triggering his love for the Lakers:
"As a kid, I didn't read Dr. Seuss, I read Jim Murray. In the 1979-1980 season, my parents had the newspaper spread across the table, as they did every morning. I was just at the age when I could read it, and recognize what was going on in it. Calendar section, ugh. Front page, meh. I said, "Wait a minute, what's this?" It just jumped off the page in 3-D. Kareem had gotten injured in Philadelphia, and Magic was going to start at center. And it pulled me in like a novel or something. I dove right into it. Our TV wasn't working, and I set my alarm to listen to Keith Erickson and Chick Hearn, and I listened to the game when Magic did the tip off. I haven't missed a game since."
He's not kidding. Harper told us of the incredible lengths he goes to guarantee he sees every game and consumes every article. Fair to say, the guy is hard core.
From there, we talk about a wide range of subjects including his opinion of this year's team, the incredible experience of being present for last year's Game 7 vs. Boston, his first game at the Forum, and a debate of Derek Fisher's rafter-worthiness. And, of course, we talk about Harper's incredibly varied music career and the wide range of styles he's engaged, plus his new band Fistful of Mercy and their album, As I Call You Down.
It's a very cool conversation about basketball and music with a true Lakers fan, and a good guy to boot.