Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Can Laker morado be as big as 'Doyer' azul?

A Lakers fan and his flags, June 2010
A Lakers fan and his flags, June 2010
Photo by Juan Barredo/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Los Angeles is a town full of Latino Dodger fans, but a Los Angeles Times story from earlier this week got at yet another one of Latino L.A.'s sports obsessions, the Lakers, whose purple and gold flags fly from car antennas in noticeable abundance on the Eastside this time of year.

The story detailed a big score by the Lakers organization in the National Basketball Association's push to cash in on the "fast-growing Latino market." In short, the Lakers recently announced a 20-year agreement with Time Warner Cable to create a Spanish-language regional sports network with the Lakers as its centerpiece, beginning next season. It will be the first of its kind in the country.

A couple of Lakers fanaticos were featured in the piece, including this one:

Consider longtime hoops fan Billy Sanchez, a third-generation Mexican-American. When he got his first driver's license, he knew exactly where to celebrate: at a Lakers game.

"All I wanted to do was just go down to the Forum, find a scalper and buy tickets," he recalls. "And I did that quite often."

Two decades and five NBA titles later, the team has left the Forum for Staples Center and Sanchez, 35, has no need for scalpers because he works in sales for his father's beer distributorship in the City of Industry and they have a luxury suite.

But his passion for the Lakers hasn't faded. "I've been a fan ever since I can remember," he says. "I watch every single game."

The L.A. Dodgers organization also markets aggressively to Latinos. Last summer it trademarked "Los Doyers," a nickname so common it's mispronounced on purpose. The Dodgers organization had been selling team paraphernalia with the “Los Doyers” logo, including t-shirts and hats. So had private businesses, which soon afterward were asked to stop selling it.