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Kings, Lakers fans exchange verbal dunks

Darin Olde, Tribune Sports Writer

When Kathy Sorensen brings the family to Steamers Bar & Grill for Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference finals, you know Kings fanaticism is getting serious.

Sorensen wore a Kings T-shirt and sat about 4 feet from the big-screen TV on the second floor, where no one could impede her view.

Jesse and Stephanie Sorensen were on either side, both wearing Kings jerseys — Jesse in Mike Bibby’s No. 10 and Stephanie in Chris Webber’s No. 4.

A former Celtics fan, Kathy is now a die-hard Kings fan. She’s been following the team since they acquired Webber four years ago.

Her disdain for the Lakers, however, goes back a long ways.

In fact, she still harbors substantial resentment from NBA championship losses to the Lakers in 1985 and 1987.

Call it the Celtics syndrome.

“I hated the Lakers back then and I hate them now,” says Sorenson, 52, originally from Rocky Hill, Conn.

That sore spot was where Steve Brewster liked to toss rhetorical phrases like “Wow, how did he do that?” after Shaquille O’Neal would make one of his many dunks during the first quarter.

“He did it again; how does he do that?” he taunted.

Kathy stood up at one point, turned around, front and center, and barked: “Because he’s 7-2! He’s an animal!”

He’s actually 7-1.

Brewster smiled.

“I’m from Southern California, so I’m a huge basketball fan. If the Lakers weren’t in it, I’d definitely be rooting for the kings,” Brewster said. “I got to be true to my roots.”

If Brewster and Sorensen weren’t such good friends, things may have gotten ugly, particularly after the Lakers stretched their first-quarter lead.

But Brewster assuaged the situation saying that he didn’t care who won, so long as it was good basketball.

“I think it’s more popular this year because (the Lakers) have competition,” he added.

That’s how born-again Kings fan Lara Leitner came to Steamers.

“I stopped watching for like 10 years,” she said, because professional basketball players became specialized offensive tools. When only two players make up the team, how much fun is it to watch? “The Kings are fun to watch because they are actually a team.”

Then came another Shaq dunk.

Another taunting phrase: “What are you guys going to do if you’re not up by 20 at the half?” Brewster said.

More rumbling at the Sorensen table. Then the waitress brought chili cheese fries, burgers and beer.

Wick defused.

The Kings took the lead for the first time in second quarter after O’Neal logged his third foul. The tide changed briefly.

The taunting, however, would go on an on.

“I came here to razz them,” said Zach Tobias, motioning to the Sorensen table. Tobias grew up at Northridge near Los Angeles.

“He ain’t no Laker fan,” said Jason Edwards, who at the Sorensen’s table also wore a Kings jersey — Bobby Jackson’s No. 24. “He just likes them because we don’t.”

Darin Olde can be reached at dolde@tahoedailytribune.com or (530) 542-8008.


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