Against the Glass

By Jack Mann

The greatest blunder the Clippers ever made, besides choosing to still be in existence, was shunning the opportunity to perform at the Anaheim Pond. Picture it – the only pro basketball ticket in town, your Anaheim Clippers! Line up, ladies and gentlemen, for real, live NBA hoops in your own inland backyard!

Can you fathom the kind of spectacle Orange County could have seen, the high flying aerial acts of Michael Olowokandi and Sean Rooks, the experienced playmaking abilities and leadership of Lamar Odom and Corey Maggette, the powerful, decisive, star-quality ownership of Donald Ster — hold on. Stay in L.A., Clips. We don’t need our shiny emerald green palace desecrated by your egregious defeats.

We’re happy with our Might Ducks of Anaheim, and we are especially happy with the budding rivalry being built with the Los Angeles Kings. And why shouldn’t we? Each team has it’s own superstars, has management that’s committed to winning, and arenas as spectacular as any in the nation. Paul Kariya and Ziggy Palffy. Teemu Selanne and Luc Robitaille.

If you haven’t been to the games, go. Don’t try to watch them on television. Unless you’re from the East and were born with hockey in your blood, skated outdoors in the dead of winter, or heard stories since you were nine from some old uncle about “the old glory days” of the Montreal Canadians, you won’t enjoy hockey on television. It’s hard to say why, exactly, but if you’ve tried, you know. It’ll put you to sleep faster than a third quarter floor routine by the Clipper Girls (yes, there is no area in Clipperdom where a good potshot is not encouraged).

In short, go see the games live. Especially when these two teams meet. You’ve never seen anything like it. Fans actually care. And the games are actually intense, grind-em out affairs that will get you cheering even if you are not a fan, but because you will recognize great competition when it’s being hip checked into the glass in front of you.

Yeah, these two teams go at it because they care. Hockey mentalities are different than other sports. These guys will sacrifice anything for a win. Broken bones get snapped back into place. Severed arteries are duct taped closed, and detached limbs are laughed at and tossed heedlessly aside.

Pride is everything in hockey and that’s why I’m telling you now to check it out. Rarely can that passion for performance be found in professional athletics in Southern California. If you don’t believe me, just try looking behind the door marked “Sterling.”