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Forum Reopening: Former Lakers remember the Inglewood venue's glory days

Great Western Forum

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

A general view of exterior of The Great Western Forum taken during the 1987 season in Inglewood, California.

The Forum Archival Photos

Herald-Examiner Collection/James Ruebsamen/L.A. Public Library

After Lakers won the world title in 1982, fans stormed onto Forum floor and celebrated with the players, including Kurt Rambis and Magic Johnson.

The Forum Archival Photos

Herald-Examiner Collection/James Ruebsamen/L.A. Public Library

Laker fans cheer for Magic Johnson at The Forum in 1988.

The Forum Archival Photos

Herald-Examiner Collection/James Ruebsamen / L.A. Public Library

1988: The Lakers defeated Dallas in the conference finals and went on to the NBA finals, where they then defeated Detroit for the championship title.

The Forum Archival Photos

Herald-Examiner Collection/L.A. Public Library

Duran Duran plays at the Forum in 1987.

James Worthy

Mike Powell/Getty Images

Forward James Worthy of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during a game at the Inglewood Forum in 1987.

The Forum First Look - 4

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The exterior of The Forum was repainted from blue to it's original color, "California Sunset Red."

The Forum First Look - 5

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

On January 20, Justin Timberlake's “20/20 Experience World Tour” will come to the venue.

The Forum First Look - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

After months of $100 million-dollar renovations by the Madison Square Garden Company, The Forum in Inglewood will re-open on Wednesday with a performance by the Eagles.

The Forum First Look - 9

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Archival concert photos are on display in one of the entrances to the newly renovated Forum.


The Forum in Inglewood was built back in 1967 and for over 30 years was arguably the entertainment capital of Los Angeles.

RELATED: The Forum in Inglewood reopens with the Eagles

The circular building with the iconic columns on the corner of Manchester Blvd and Prairie Ave was designed to evoke the Roman Forum and had all the dramatic flair of its Italian counterpart.

The Magic Johnson-led Lakers won championships there. Wayne Gretzky and the Kings made hockey sexy in L.A., and along with concerts ranging from Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin and Janet Jackson, the Forum was arguably the entertainment centerpiece of the city.

For many, the Forum was as much a symbol of Los Angeles as the Hollywood sign. 

Since the Lakers left in 2001, the Forum hasn't been used with much consistency. Vacant at times, the Forum still hosted concerts from time to time and once was used as a church, it's glory days seemingly a thing of the past. 

However today, a renovated Forum makes its comeback.

James Worthy and Byron Scott played for the Lakers during the Forum's peak years in the 1980s and are now basketball analysts for Time Warner Cable Sports. They join Take Two to talk about the legacy of this venue and offer some of their favorite memories there. 

Interview Highlights:

Why was the Forum seen as such a magical place?
Byron Scott: "I think a lot of it was because of the fact that, especially in the '80's, you had showtime. We didn't have a whole lot of things in Inglewood to be extremely proud of, but the Forum was something that we were extremely proud of because it was right in my neighborhood and you had everybody from Hollywood coming to watch us play so that was a very exciting time."

What did it mean to you growing up right in its shadow?
BS: "The Lakers were my favorite team, so it meant a great deal to me because of the fact that I was able to go to a few games when I was young. To be able to watch it on TV and say, "Hey man, I've been there and I was in the arena," especially as a kid when I was in high school and wanted to be a professional basketball player. It was something that was bigger than life at that time so it was an unbelievable feeling."

What was it like for you when you showed up to the Forum for the first time?
James Worthy: "You know, Byron grew up there. He was a city guy and I was country boy. I soaked it up. I soaked up everything. Inglewood to me was a city of pride. Back in the day, I heard it was like the little mecca of Hollywood. It was just a magical, mystical city." 

When did you notice that the Forum was the happening place to be at in LA?
BS: "I almost noticed that immediately. When you left the game, the fans that stuck around, if you went in the Forum Club it was almost like a night club. It was a who's who of people in there. So from the first game that I played and after the game going towards the Forum Club to go out to the parking lot to get to my car, I knew it was something special." 

Did you ever hang out at the Forum Club?
JW: "Yeah, well, from time to time guys used to rush in that shower, they wanted to get up there real quickly. It was probably before we all were married and it was nice spot because that's where Dr. Buss would have his after-dinners and all his friends and it was just a nice place to go get a drink and meet friends. It was kind of the only place to go…You saw everything and there was just no bodyguards, no social media. People were just hanging out. You know, you might look up and see the biggest star in Los Angeles at the bar so it was just a really good cohesive place to hang out. No trouble. Never was any arguments, just nice harmony in there."

Favorite memories from the Forum Club?
BS: "You would go in and see other people and just be in awe that they were in there just having a drink or having dinner or just socializing, but the thing that was crazy for me is that they looked at us the way we looked to them. They were more in awe of us than we were of them. It was just an unbelievable social place. And like you said, if you weren't an A-lister, it was kind of hard to get in there, but once you was in there the people that you saw would surprise you at times." 

Did you guys catch any concerts there?
JW: "I think I saw Stevie Wonder there, I think I saw Luther Vandross, Boyz II Men, somebody like that, but there were a lot of shows there so we did take advantage of that. There's also some really good boxing there. Dr. Buss used to invite us to some of those fight nights at the Forum and we would get a good kick out of that as well." 

What was the night like when you won the NBA title against the Celtics in 1987?
BS: "We partied in the locker room with champagne and everybody was just having a great time. It was hours before we left to go home after we won the championship so that's probably the only time we didn't go up to the Forum [Club] and enjoy the company up there. We just stayed in our locker rooms and enjoyed our families, our friends who were there and then after that we had a party, just a Laker party." 

Did you ever feel sorry when you saw the Forum abandoned?
JW: "I fell in love with Inglewood. Byron Scott used to sneak in games as kid at the Forum. You fall in love with the people, the people across the street, you might stop and get a sandwich down on Manchester, get your haircut there so those things never go away. Crenshaw never went away. You still got get your haircut, you still go to some of your favorite eateries and I was kind of sad that maybe Inglewood didn't get the football stadium or something."

Are you happy to see that the Forum is finding a second life?
BS: "I am extremely happy that it's back open, even if it's concerts, I'm sure they will start doing even more things as the year goes on. I'm happy about the retail business and the hotel business that are going up. And like you said, being a Inglewood native, it's always good to see the city starting to get back because I still look at Inglewood as the city of champion and I've always been proud to be one of Inglewood's, I don't know if it's one of their finest boys or native son or whatever, but very proud of it." 

Do you have any favorite memories of concerts or sporting events at The Forum? Post them here in the comments below, on our Facebook page or tweet @TakeTwo.

 

 


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