New York City – Meritocracy
The fans in the Big Apple ask for one thing: WIN. They don’t mind being the Evil Empire (see: Yankees) or the Underdog (see: Giants), as long as you get the job done. The old adage of “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” applies in to New York sports. If you can ball, you have the love of the masses. If you can’t, you can take the first flight out of JFK. Like New York weather, NY’s sports scene can be scorching one day and snowing the other. The fans are intensely passionate and fiercely loyal, but New York is also a cold, unforgiving place. Just ask Mark Sanchez and he will tell you the cold hard truth: that you’re only one butt-fumble away from being boo’ed in your home arena. Amare and Melo were once touted as New York’s white knights, the saving grace for a long-dead Knicks, and combined with Tyson Chandler, another Big Three. Now, whenever there’s an injury, there’s an endless barrage of “Are the Knicks better without ____.” Except for Tyson Chandler—he’s great.
P.S. Remember when we loved A-Rod?
Los Angeles – Theocracy
If sports is a religion, for Angelino’s it’s not polytheistic. There is one god. And it is the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe is their Pope and Staples, their Sistine Chapel. Don’t get me wrong, LA loves their other teams, but the Kings won the Stanley Cup and all Los Angeles could talk about was what to do with Andrew Bynum. Clippers are making the best run in their franchise’s history but the Lakers fighting for 8th seed bumps them off the headlines. It’s not that Laker fans aren’t fickle and clamoring for revolution when the Lakers have their struggles (see: Mike Brown, soon-to-be Mike D’Antoni), it’s that they are single-minded in their love or hate of their Lakers. There are no cross-town rivalries. There is no subway series and except for the minority of die-hards and band-wagoners, Los Angeles is Laker-Nation.
P.S. What a wonderful pope he is.
Since 2010, I’ve split my time between New York and Los Angeles. These years have also been my formative years in sports fan-dom, so my loyalties have grown recently—not in the time I grew up in NY. For all the people who get wonder why I don’t particularly care for the Knicks, that’s the explanation in a nutshell. I’m starting a series of comparisons between the cities. This is the first installment.
Every great empire must have a king. These are the sports icons, the living gods amongst mere men. We know the cities. These are their kings.
New York City – Derek Jeter – “The Captain”
Derek Jeter IS New York sports. His easy charm embodies the blase attitude of the city while his fierce competitiveness captures New York’s determination and grit. Mr. November is the quintessential professional and New York’s most eligible bachelor. There are never stories about Jeter to distract the clubhouse, but everyone in the city has a friend with a story about Jeter in a club. A legendary career and an urban legend, Jeter wins the crown in Gotham.
Notable Stat: Jeter is 5 of 7 in World Series(es?). Judging by injuries to the Yank’s this season, it looks like that will be the number he’s retiring with
Crowning Moment:: The Flip. Jeter makes an unforgettable play that shows the instincts and ballsiness that has made him an immortal baseball icon.
Los Angeles – Kobe Bryant – “The Black Mamba”
Without a question, Kobe is King of LA. The Black Mamba is Undisputed Dictator of the city of angels and you know what? He wouldn’t have it any other way. He seized the throne for himself by way of coup (sorry, Shaq) and has no intention of giving it up any time soon (sorry, Dwight). He has the most indomitable will that I, personally, have ever witnessed in sports and he’s won the hearts of Los Angeles by being a classy, larger-than-life figure that blurs the line between athlete and Hollywood celeb. And it’s not Angelinos, either. I’ve never seen a player who gets MVP chants in opponent arenas and I don’t know if I ever will again.
Notable Stat: Kobe has played enough playoff games to fill three full NBA seasons. He’s 5 of 6 in Finals and is showing that if you give him the chance, he’s going to make a run to tie Michael.
Crowning Moment: The Fourth – After years of hearing that Shaq won them the first three titles, Kobe gets the monkey off his back with his fourth title and first Finals MVP.