LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The hometown teams went head-to-head Tuesday night as the NBA season got underway.
The match-up was so highly anticipated, it drew fans from all over the world including one couple who traveled to Los Angeles from Estonia — 5,600 miles — to watch the game in person. Another couple from Indiana came to the game as part of their L.A. honeymoon.
“I got Tuesday,” Zak Cook, a Lakers fan, said. “Today’s my day, and all the other six days is whatever she wants to do. That was pretty much the bargaining chip.”
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And while the Staples Center might be adorned with statues of Laker legends, a new mural nearby featuring superstar Kawhi Leonard was a sign that the Clippers were intent on continuing with their recent success — success that fans seemed more than willing to pay to see.
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Minutes before the game, tickets on StubHub were ranging in price from $300 to well over $1,000, while other Clippers fans waited in line for more than eight hours to secure $10 tickets for the game — a promotion by the Clippers and Honey, a Los Angeles-based tech firm.
“I think it shows a lot,” Yamillet Brizuela, a Clippers fan, said. “The Clippers have reached out to more of a working class, because tickets have gotten so expensive.”
But at least one Lakers fan was hoping to take advantage of the promotion, too.
“I’m really here to support my Lakers for $10,” Matthew Ramirez, who hid his Lakers jersey under a red shirt, said. “I had to go behind enemy lines.”
Outside the sell-out game, demonstrators handed out shirts to fans hoping to raise attention of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong — following a pair of controversial Lakers pre-season games in China and statements by LeBron James.
In the end, politics took a back seat to L.A. pride as fans on both sides enjoyed the rivalry game.
“It’s a win-win,” Kirke Maarja Kotkas, the Clippers fan married to a Lakers fan who traveled from Estonia for the game, said. “Whatever the game is going to end like, we feel happy for the other person.”