With the Lakers in the NBA playoffs and expected by many to contend for the championship, the Wall Street Journal looks at why they dominate L.A. sports and concludes "the unquestioned primacy of the Lakers in Los Angeles seems rooted in a chain of events that began in 1979, when Earvin 'Magic' Johnson arrived and Jerry Buss bought the team."
The team's popularity was spurred by a deliberate and highly successful attempt to woo celebrities to games, the departure of the city's last NFL team in 1995 and sustained attempts to reach out to fans who can't afford to buy tickets.
Fans, basketball executives and even sociologists say there are other, less-visible factors at work. These include the proliferation of outdoor basketball courts at private homes and on Hollywood's studio lots, the unusual concentration of high school, college and pro teams here, and the little-known fact that many Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles come from Oaxaca, the most basketball-crazy region in all of Mexico. Jeanie Buss, the daughter of the Lakers owner, says the sport owes some of its cultural resonance to the basketball-themed TV show "The White Shadow," which ran on CBS from 1978 to 1981, and revolved around a retired NBA player coaching basketball at a high school in South Central Los Angeles. "It was the bomb," she says.
Free on the WSJ site. The headline is "Why the Lakers own Los Angeles."