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(Image/CTV News)

“As explained at the end of the Christmas day post, we have been looking for contributors to write articles for the Lakers Fanclub UK website. A few people have already reached out, who I have plans to introduce. The idea is to get a bit of background information on the contributors and how they came about becoming fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, whilst being based in the United Kingdom. We are going to call this series ‘Contributor Stories’. First up is Dave Keenan. Dave is an active follower of Lakers Fanclub UK on Twitter, so it is great to have him on board.” – Matt, Founder of Lakers Fanclub UK

I sit here typing this after an impressive Christmas Day performance from the Lakers, whereby they demolished the current NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena, 127-101. Matt, who is behind the excellent Lakers Fanclub UK Twitter page and website recently tweeted asking for contributors to the website. Well, after a few Christmas sherries to give me a bit of confidence, I contacted Matt to offer some thoughts I had.

However, before I put some content together, I feel that it is only fair that I educate you all on my history of supporting the Lakers and the NBA. I do have to confess though, I have not always been a fan of the purple and gold. When I first started watching the NBA, back in 1994, was the result of my Dad channel surfing in which a game between the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets appeared. Since then, I was hooked immediately. The commentators were swooning over a 7-foot-1 powerhouse, named Shaquille O’Neal. Looking back at the game, he did not have a great performance although the sheer size of the man and the power he displayed was impressive. It was something I had never seen before.

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Looking back, I was more of a player-driven fan, a fan of Shaq himself rather than the Orlando Magic. For my 16th birthday my Dad took me to New York for the Knicks v Magic game at Madison Square Garden in February 1996, it was an experience I will never forget and will be forever grateful to my Dad for. Shaq did not have a top-end performance (18 pts, 11 reb, 4 ast, 4 blk) like we grew accustomed to seeing night in night out, but he was still impressive and showed off one of his legendary one-handed slams. The sound of that slam, I remember, reverberated right around Madison Square Garden!

At the end of that season, Shaq ended up signing a 7-year, $121 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. From then, I started following the Lakers’ trails and tribulations before the success that saw the team 3-peat with championship wins between 2000-2002. Following that, I was disappointed with the way in which the partnership between Kobe Bryant and Shaq ended in Los Angeles. I went on to support Shaq in his championship year with the Miami Heat. In and around 2006, I drifted in and out of following the game but did keep a casual eye on the Lakers, then a brief but intense rekindling of the rivalry with the Boston Celtics emerged a few years later. I was delighted to see Kobe bring another two titles back to Los Angeles.

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(Image/Grantland)

I also enjoyed keeping tracks on LeBron James’ tenure in Miami, as it was some of the best basketball I have ever seen. A player with so much explosiveness, strength, and versatility, I became a fan of him instantly. Rounding up, I became a fan of the Lakers, by extension, through Shaq. I now have a rekindled affinity watching both the Lakers and the NBA in what is such an exciting period for the game with “super teams” and a variety of superstars around the league.

Shaq, when leaving the Orlando Magic complained about being a big fish in a small pond, which I predict will be startlingly similar to a certain Anthony Davis. Keep an eye on this one!

Thank you for taking the time to read and best wishes.

By Dave Keenan (@AzumaDriver)