Throughout the Kings playoff run, the sight of Mayor Eric Garcetti enjoying the action at games and including "go, Kings, go!" in his tweets felt a little surprising. He had not publicly identified with LA's sports teams before, that I recall. Especially not the hockey-playing Kings. Puckheads could have wondered if he was secretly one of them. For Monday's Stanley Cup parade, he showed up wearing a Kings jersey — and tweeted a morning photo from his office taking a meeting in the jersey. It was a new image for the mayor, but nothing like the free image makeover he got a couple of hours later by saying fuck on live television during his portion of Monday's celebration inside Staples Center — while hoisting a bottle of Bud Light.
They say [politicians should] never, ever be pictured with a drink in your hand and never swear. But this is a big fucking day.
The crowd erupted in a wild, raucous standing ovation. Kings players broke into grins and applause. Garcetti had a big grin himself and waved triumphantly to the crowd. It went over BIG, in the arena and on Twitter. Kings executive Luc Robitaille took the microphone and joked gee thanks a lot — the team had specifically asked the players not to swear that day. Scripted or not, the fucking heard 'round the city became part of the story the rest of the day in LA and beyond. Fox Sports West's Patrick O'Neal read an apology on the air, since the broadcaster could in theory be fined for airing the expletive to a kids' audience. The LA Times, LA Weekly and last night's TV news shows did blog items on Garcetti's choice of language. "Today Garcetti is an L.A. hockey bro to the fullest," wrote Dennis Romero at the Weekly. He called Garcetti the "G-Dogg."
Some parents were quoted being disappointed in the mayor, noting there were a lot of kids in the audience. But I saw several others saying they were more likely to vote for Garcetti in the future. From the mayor's political perspective, the key thing that was happening was that everyone was talking about Eric Garcetti, not Anze Kopitar. And the image shift looked to be playing in Garcetti's favor. A new, rougher side to his policy wonk demeanor, and it went national.
On "Jimmy Kimmel Live" last night, Garcetti came out to accept the pay-off of his bet with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio — who sang a version of "We Love LA." Kimmel immediately alluded to Garcetti's f-bomb. "I enjoyed your performance at the rally today," Kimmel quipped. Garcetti quipped back, to loud applause, "I appreciate it. I got a little ahead of myself. (Laughs.) You gotta remember, we didn't win at lawn bowling. We won in hockey." Garcetti then added: "Kids out there, do not say what your mayor said today." Kings playoff hero Justin Williams, sitting on Kimmel's couch with teammate Alec Martinez, turned to Garcetti and said if he could vote, "you would have my vote."
On the mayor's Facebook page and Twitter feed, the language was cleaned up. "Big fucking deal" became BFD. There's also some Kings lore behind the mayor's quip. When the Kings won in 2012, goalie Jonathan Quick veered into raw language — "a few F-bombs away from a full Chris Rock routine," Yahoo Sports recalled Monday — in his remarks to the crowd at Staples Center. In Garcetti's case, his office wasn't saying just how scripted this episode was. The LAT said it "had all the look of a premeditated publicity salvo," and the paper was right about that.