In addition to being sports fans, Brian and I are really into pop culture. Movies. Television. And of course, music. Some might even call us "music geeks" or "music snobs," both labels difficult to deny. These passions made it quite fun having Steve Gorman on as a guest. He's got the "music" end covered, having spent 20+ years as the drummer for The Black Crowes. He's also a sports junkie who even has own sports podcast, Steve Gorman Sports! It was only natural that a marathon podcast would ensue.
On the music front, Gorman shared his thoughts on the state of music in 2011, the touring lifestyle and what it's like to share a stage with Jimmy Page. He also talked about wearing musical influences on your sleeve, and why his two drumming gods (Ringo Starr and John Bonham) are actually more similar than your ears might think. Great stuff for anybody who takes their CD collection seriously.
We also talked a lot of NBA, and Gorman offered takes on topics ranging from "The Decision" to the Dallas Mavericks to the mental focus required of an elite athlete. He also discussed Kobe Bryant, and like many folks who don't cheer for the Lakers -- and even, frankly, some who do -- Gorman's not a fan of The Mamba's personality. But unlike some who never warmed up to Kobe, Gorman doesn't use this as an excuse to deny the future Hall of Famer his props:
"I don't want to know him. I don't ever want to have dinner with him, but man, you can't take a thing away from him. You know what I think about him? I think he's somewhere in the world right now working really hard. At this very moment you and I are speaking, he is enraged and he's dribbling a ball with his fingers taped together. Or he's got ankle weights on and he's running through some swamp somewhere holding onto a ball and people are throwing things at him, because he's gotta get ready for the season. I mean, I love that he is as maniacal [as he is]. On the maniac scale, I'd say he's up there with [Michael] Jordan. He's just obsessed with winning and competing. And I love that."
Besides, when it comes to Lakers, Gorman has bigger fish to fry than Kobe, literally and figuratively. From childhood ("Before [Kareem Abdul-]Jabbar," as he notes) until 1996, Gorman was a rabid Laker fan. Ginormous. More than any other team in sports. While working on the Crowes' second album (The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion), Magic Johnson held his press conference to announce his retirement and HIV-positive status. The drummer flat out lost it.
"I had to leave that day," reveals Gorman. "I cried for three hours. I couldn't take it. It was the saddest thing in my life at that time."
With this said, it stands to reason a lot would be necessary to make Gorman turn in his back on the Lakers. Unfortunately, Shaquille O'Neal not only accomplished mission impossible, but on his first day as a Laker:
"They signed Shaq, who I was not a huge fan of. But it was okay, because I appreciated getting another dominant big man. He gets to his press conference. One of the questions comes to him about how many championships do you want to win, or do you see a championship in your future. He sidestepped the question and said, 'I just want to be young, have fun and drink Pepsi.' That was a quote. Look it up.
"That turned into the representation of everything I hated about professional sports in the 90's. It really did. And now it sounds so ridiculous saying it. The truth is, this is another way of saying I didn't have kids yet, because I was still living and dying with adult millionaires that I'll never meet. It wound me up so much that my only response that I felt I could live with was to swear off the Lakers for life.
"That was it, because I couldn't stand the thought [of rooting for Shaq]. And then I made myself feel better every time I saw his free throws down the stretch in the fourth. I was like, 'I made the right choice.' And they didn't win a ring for a few years, so it wasn't like right away, it came back to haunt me. I had a few years to get over it. Or at least pretend I was over it and move on before they truly ascended yet again."
Strong sentiments from Gorman, which prompt the Question Of The Day: Could the Lakers ever sign a player that would make it impossible for you to continue rooting for them?
As a purple and gold card-carrying fan, my answer is no.*
As much as the experience of rooting for a team is enhanced by actually liking the players, at the end of the day, as the cliche' goes, I root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. That's not to say I remain neutral or oblivious to the players' personalities. Any fan develops favorites, along with the players he learns to tolerate because their individual success will hopefully translate to success for the squad. I'm also fortunate to have never liked a team with too many guys in the latter category. (Being asked to support "The Jail Blazers," for example, might have pushed me over the edge.) But either way, once I've developed a passion for a franchise, it's hard to imagine throwing out the baby with the bathwater rather than simply holding my nose when it comes to certain players.
Of course, that's just me. Is there a current or retired player so unlikeable, his presence in L.A. would suck all the joy out of being a Laker fan? If so, who and why?
* - I do have experience abandoning a team, but for completely different reasons. Growing up in St. Louis, I was a die-hard for the now Arizona Cardinals. Loved them. Yes, they were perennial losers horribly run by dirt cheap owner Bill Bidwell. But they were my horribly run losers, and as long as they were part of St. Louis' fabric, I was in.
However, after the 1985 season, Bidwell moved the Cardinals to Arizona, and I felt incredibly betrayed. It was hard enough to maintaining loyalty to a sad sack organization in my backyard. Being asked to keep up with them while in Arizona felt like a slap in the face. (I had no idea the world would one day feature the Internet, NFL packages and other methods of making this task considerably easier.) Thus, I turned my back on the Cardinals, a decision I've eventually come to regret. I gave "adopted" teams like the Vikings and Niners a shot, but it was never quite the same. I received a brief jolt of happiness from the Rams winning the 1999 Super Bowl, but that franchise ultimately meant nothing to me. I even attempted to follow the Cardinals again, but after so many years away, I couldn't "go home again." Thus, I'd advise fans of any team to carefully weigh the decision before jumping ship.