Column: Here are six things L.A. sports teams should bring back in 2020

Chick Hearn, Lakers

I’m the type who likes to give unsolicited advice to strangers at parties this time of year, which probably explains why no one ever invites me back to their New Year’s Eve party. That’s another story for another day, but here are a few things I’d like to see from Los Angeles’ sports teams this year.

Bring back Chick Hearn’s refrigerator
Longtime Lakers play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn always knew when to close the refrigerator door on a game.

Longtime Lakers play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn always knew when to put a game in the refrigerator.
(Vince Compagnone / Los Angeles Times)

No one was as beloved by Lakers fans as Chick Hearn during his 42 years as the voice of the team.

His “Chickisms” became part of our sports lexicon as the Hall of Fame announcer coined now commonly used basketball phrases such as slam dunk, air ball, dribble-drive, no-look pass and give and go. He also gave us phrases that became staples of his famed simulcast broadcasts such as, “The mustard’s off the hot dog,” “Caught with his hand in the cookie jar,” “No harm, no foul” and “In and out, heart-brrrreak!”

But the most famous “Chickism” and the one any Lakers fan over the age of 30 can still recite by heart is Hearn putting the game in the refrigerator when the Lakers held a comfortable lead in the final moments of a game.

“The game’s in the refrigerator, the door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling.”

With apologies to the popular “We want tacos!” chant at the end of Lakers games, the team should play a recording of Hearn’s popular call when the Lakers are holding a double-digit lead within the final minute of a game.

His words should roll on the scoreboard so younger fans can recite it along with older fans and 18,997 fans can collectively put the game in the refrigerator. It would continue Hearn’s legacy and usher in what could become one of the cooler traditions in the NBA.

Return the California Angels
Anaheim Stadium on opening day for the California Angels in April 1966.

Anaheim Stadium on opening day for the California Angels in April 1966.
(Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times)

The Anaheim City Council recently approved an agreement that should extend the Angels’ tenure in Anaheim through 2050. Anaheim politicians would prefer the team be known as the Anaheim Angels, which was their name when they won their only World Series in 2002.

Angels owner Arte Moreno has no intention of changing their current title as the Los Angeles Angels. How about settling on a middle ground and go back to being called the California Angels? It was the team’s name from 1965 to 1996, and who would complain if the team brought back the classic uniforms worn by Nolan Ryan and Rod Carew?

‘Battle for L.A.’ at the Forum
Lakers owner Jerry Buss stands outside the Forum in 1990.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss stands outside the Forum in 1990.
(George Rose / Allsport)

The Lakers called the Forum in Inglewood home from 1967 to 1999. The Clippers want to build a new arena nearby but the Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Forum, is trying to block it.

The Lakers even looked into the possibility of teaming up with MSG and going back to Inglewood and a rebuilt Forum in an effort to stop the Clippers.

All signs point to the Clippers being given the green light to build an Inglewood arena but perhaps all parties can come to a resolution that would include the Lakers and Clippers playing an annual “Battle for L.A.” game at the Forum.

The league gets a regular-season game fans care about, the Forum gets a big-ticket event everyone will be talking about, the Lakers get to return to their old home for one night and the Clippers save themselves from an ongoing legal battle.

Lakers or Clippers championship rally at SoFi Stadium
Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, guards Lakers forward LeBron James.

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, guards Lakers forward LeBron James during the Clippers’ win in the 2019-20 season opener.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

If the Lakers or Clippers win the NBA championship this June, they should hold their championship rally at SoFi Stadium, the $5-billion future home of the Rams and Chargers.

Taylor Swift is scheduled to be the first public event at the stadium in July, but Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. recently said the stadium is scheduled to be done by June. The first event should really be an event celebrating a Los Angeles championship in the “City of Champions,” not an overpriced concert most of the city and its residents can’t enjoy.

Re-retire Reggie Bush’s No. 5 at the Coliseum
USC’s Reggie Bush stiff arms UCLA’s Jarrad Page in 2005.

USC’s Reggie Bush runs against UCLA’s Jarrad Page in 2005.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Bush’s NCAA-mandated disassociation from USC is scheduled to end in June, at which point it will be up to USC to decide how they move forward with the only player to ever be stripped of his Heisman Trophy.

The Division I Committee on Infractions recently reduced any disassociation to 10 years, meaning Bush, who is an analyst for Fox Sports, could be welcomed back and celebrated by the university as early as next season.

While the school can’t return his Heisman Trophy or the team’s 2004 BCS national championship crystal ball, it can finally recognize his accomplishments and retire his No. 5. Let’s just say he wouldn’t be the most controversial former player with his number retired at the Coliseum.

Erect a Ralph Lawler statue
Former Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler.

Former Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler.
(Los Angeles Times)

Much like the team he was with for 40 years, Ralph Lawler, who retired after last season as the voice of the Clippers, often got lost in the mix during a golden age of Los Angeles sports broadcasters that included Hearn, Vin Scully and Bob Miller.

Hearn and Miller both have statues outside of Staples Center and banners hanging inside the arena. Lawler got the media entrance at the arena named after him before he retired.

The Clippers most certainly have a plan to honor Lawler, 81, at their new arena in 2024, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be recognized now at the arena he called home for 20 years.


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