The Staples Center experience

Migs Bustos
The author takes in the view of the Staples Center, along with ABS-CBN North America Bureau Correspondent Steve Angeles

The Staples Center is the home of numerous sports teams in Los Angeles – the Clippers (NBA), the Sparks (WNBA), the Kings (NHL), but the ‘staple’ for this home court is none other than the fabled Los Angeles Lakers – full of heritage, culture and history beyond the basketball world. With the help of NBA Philippines and ABS-CBN, I got to experience what goes on behind the scenes, learned some similarities and differences of covering sports in the US and at home, and took in all I could in the spirit of sports journalism.

My main story for this coverage is how thrilled Filipino and Filipino-American Laker fans are about the fresh new season. Entering the second season following the retirement of the Black Mamba, supporters of the Lakers all over the city were still rooting their new guns at full blast, and rightfully so. The Lakers defeated the Washington Wizards in this game in overtime, on October 25, behind the heroic efforts of Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr. and Lonzo Ball.

But what was not seen on TV is this tour inside Staples Center. As I begin to write this, I’m on PR103, the flight headed home to Manila via Tom Bradley International Airport (more commonly known as LAX). In the middle of the 13-hour flight, I just had to browse my photos of my Lakers experience, and I thought I’d just take you through my whole eight-hour stint covering a Lakers game. Enjoy!

First off, I could not have done it alone. I was with Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN’s North America Bureau Correspondent. He handles all stories in Southern California – all the counties across the region. This guy’s a superman.

We were given a media pass before we entered Staples. Game time was at 7:30 PM, but we got there about three hours before.

The first room we got to was the press room. Tons of sports journalists settled in there before the game. At the center were multiple monitors, with everybody tuned in to game two of the World Series. They had to, since it had been 29 years since the hometown Dodgers had gone the distance.

Before covering the game at hand, and the reason why we were all there in the first place, was we had to fill in our tummies. Steve went right to the buffet area, but was called out by the usher, as we had to pay $7 first to get full access to the food. We gladly obliged. Seven dollars is not bad for a full-on buffet (normally meals in the US would cost around more, plus tax, especially in upscale downtown LA).

After our re-fuel, we had to go to work. We went straight to the pre-game press conference of Lakers Coach Luke Walton, where he answered some questions for the media and provided a few soundbytes. Also, lurking at the back is a familiar face, in support of his son.

Then we went straight on the Lakers locker room. Players had their own downtime before shootaround. So from left to right, fill in the blanks who’s who. We were not able to get soundbytes from players just yet because they were restricted, as we can only interview them after the game.

We did our spiels on-court too, with assistant coach Mark Madsen in the background!

After getting our interviews from fans and obtaining our materials from behind the scenes, it was time to settle in on our REAL seats. Unlike in the Philippines where the media is situated on the floor, literally on the floor of the court, this was the exact opposite. We were seated ALL THE WAY UP at the press Level. It was cool, we didn’t mind. We had our own seats, assigned to us, so it wasn’t bad.

Even when the game was over, the work did not end. Steve and I went straight to the dugouts for interviews and press-cons. We got to go inside Luke Walton’s media interview. Journalists ask their questions in queue, and Coach Walton gladly answered all.

After Coach Luke’s press-con, we headed to the Lakers locker room right away. Almost everybody was out, so we didn’t even get to interview Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson because he was already gone. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma were finishing up their interviews. But luckily, we saved the best for last. Lonzo Ball was in his ice box, killing some time before heading to the showers. He finally went inside, as everybody from the media surrounded his cubicle. As he got out in just his boxer shorts, he got his jeans, put on a shirt and straight up answered all the questions from the media.

I also got to sneak in the last question. Remember that week when Wizards center Marcin Grotat said that John Wall would show ‘no mercy’ against Lonzo Ball? One of the reporters asked about his POV on that matchup, and I just followed up on what she had to ask. I kind of stuttered and felt like my question didn’t make any sense, but good thing I got the rebound and got to get a good answer from Big Baller Lonzo.

And that was a wrap! What an experience. And what gives me more fulfillment is representing the Filipinos in such a big arena (literally). If I had the chance, I’d gladly do it all over again.

This is in the service of the Filipino, worldwide.

Reporting from Staples Center, this is Migs Bustos, ABS-CBN News… Los Angeles, California.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports.

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