This season has been unlike any other for all basketball fans. They won’t be able to attend the games in person, as the NBA moved all teams and games to a secluded arena, dubbed “the Bubble,” at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. For the first time in 21 years, the Los Angeles Lakers are not playing at their home court, the Staples Center.
Some students living in the USC area have been able to socially distance and watch the games outside of restaurants like Rock and Reilly’s in the USC Village, while other fans have been able to make do at home.
Rem Weber, a senior majoring in international relations and global business, lives near USC. He and some of his friends gathered last week to watch the NBA finals from a blow-up movie screen in his backyard.
“The projector has provided a great way to create a safer environment to have others over in a socially distanced setting and watching sports altogether,” Weber said. Weber and his roommates plan to continue to watch the rest of the NBA finals together.
Nico Abdo, a junior majoring in economics, currently lives at the Lorenzo, where he also attempted to recreate the NBA atmosphere.
“We have a Kobe shirt hanging in our living room,” Abdo said.
Abdo is a self-proclaimed die-hard Lakers fan, a trait that was passed down to him from his father and his uncle. At his family’s house, the game is always turned on in the background, a tradition he and his roommate have continued in their apartment by campus.
“We are also really loud too,” Abdo joked.
Abdo wished he could see the NBA finals in person, but having the Lakers leading the series was close enough.
For many fans like Abdo, being a Lakers fan is something most people are born into. The same can be said for Sydney Rockett, a master’s student studying in journalism.
Rocket celebrated her birthday at the Staple Center a couple of times with her grandfather who has lifetime seats. When they weren’t at the games, Rockett and her family would watch the game together in the living room, yet leave it on in every TV, a ritual that has stayed the same during the pandemic.
“[Basketball] was basically all I knew,” she said. Born in 1997, Rockett remembers celebrating in her Kobe jersey when the Lakers won three years in a row.
Yet, for other fans, their options have changed. USC Women’s Basketball player, India Otto had to adjust to this new normal, not only on the court but as a Lakers fan too.
As an athlete, Otto’s schedule is packed to the brim, with practice Monday through Friday starting October 14, team meetings on Tuesdays, and seven classes squeezed in between. On top of that, she must get COVID tested twice a week, a new normal for this season.
Otto is still able to find time to keep up with her favorite team. She doesn’t have a TV in her dorm, so she’s been following the game on the ESPN app and through social media. But like many Laker fans, if times were different, she’d be at the game cheering the team on.
“You know it’s the championship, and the energy in Los Angeles would be incredible [if the game was at the Staples Center],” Otto said. “I’d definitely go down there for sure if it were here.”
The Lakers currently lead the series three to one and will play their next game Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. PST. In honor of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers will be wearing their black mamba jerseys.
Game five will tell if the Laker’s talent and mamba mentality can bring them another championship ring.
Check out this week’s See It Live’s segment on the Lakers at the NBA championships.