Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat writer for the AJC wants to know if there will be more Hawks fans or Lakers fans at Philips Arena tonight.
I say it's going to be a push. Mike Woodson and Hawks players are irked (rightfully so) that so many Lakers fans come out every year, but they shouldn't let themselves get too worked up about it for 3 reasons:
1) It's the Lakers. They are the standard for what a great franchise is in the NBA. Blame it on the 80's. There's no need to spend a whole lot of time on this reason. It really needs no explanation.
2) It's Kobe Bryant. Outside of Cleveland because they have their own once in a lifetime talent, Kobe gets cheers everywhere. This is a man who literally had fans in the Boston Garden chanting MVP for him a few seasons ago. If there are that many Lakers fans in Boston, then you know there's nowhere you can go and not be among them.
3) It costs more to get into Philips Arena when the Lakers are in town. You can go see teams like the Pistons or Raptors for as little as $10, but the cheapest ticket to get inside when the Lakers are in town is about $35. If you're a Hawks fan, you are probably thinking you shouldn't have to pay more to see your favorite team just because Kobe is in town? I don't blame you if you pass on the opportunity. That means there are more tickets for the people who aren't really Hawks fans and the organization knows they are willing to pay more. Hell, they may not even know they're paying more since they only come out when the Lakers are town. If the Hawks are your favorite team, you come to Philips Arena even when they're playing the worst teams in the NBA, so you don't really care about missing the Lakers game. You can watch it on tv and save yourself some money in the process.
Basically, the Lakers are already a popular franchise, add to that the fact that they have the most popular basketball player on the planet, and it costs you more money to walk through the same doors you walk through when they're/he's not in town, and you have all of the necessary ingredients to ensure there will be several Lakers fans in Philips Arena.
I wouldn't worry too much about it though. If the Hawks are winning late, the fans will convert. I've witnessed it time and time again.
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