Credit: David Flores / Kens5.com
Spurs fan David Vallejo wears the silver and black proudly as his girlfriend, Karrie Arredondo, and her daughter, Alexianna, show their loyalty to the Lakers before Tuesday night's game.
Friday, Dec 31 at 9:24 AM
SAN ANTONIO -- Lisa Kirsch and her mother, Kathy Gerlach, stopped at a restaurant for supper before going to the first Spurs-Lakers game of the season Tuesday night at the AT&T Center.
Kirsch and Gerlach made for an odd pair despite being family, Kirsch wearing a gray Spurs shirt and Gerlach a purple and gold Lakers jersey.
“She got booed as she left the restaurant,” Kirsch said, trying to stifle a chuckle. “By my sister.”
Then mother and daughter looked at each other and laughed.
It’s all part of being on opposite sides of one of the NBA’s fiercest rivalries.
“It’s not easy being a Lakers fan in San Antonio,” Gerlach said. “But it’s all in fun.”
The Spurs rolled to a 97-82 victory Tuesday night to improve to a league-best 27-4. Los Angeles, which beat Boston in seven games in last season’s finals to win its 16th NBA crown, slipped to 21-10.
In a city where the Lakers are loathed by most of the population, Spurs fans reveled in seeing their team beat L.A. decisively.
“What happened?” a Spurs fan asked a Lakers fan as they walked out of the AT&T Center after the game.
The Lakers fan had no comeback.
One of the glamour franchises in all of pro sports, the Lakers always can count on seeing plenty of their fans wherever they play. San Antonio is no exception.
Lakers fans traditionally show up in droves, decked out in purple and gold and wearing their favorite player’s jersey. In most cases, that would be Kobe Bryant.
“A lot of people grew up watching the Lakers,” said Joel Salinas, who lives in Corpus Christi and made the trip with his wife and another couple. “That’s always been my team.”
The subdued mood of Los Angeles loyalists after the loss was in marked contrast to their buoyant confidence before the game.
Yes, the Spurs owned the best record in the NBA but they had yet to play the defending champion Lakers.
David Vallejo promised his girlfriend, Karrie Arredondo, before the game that he wouldn’t gloat if the Spurs won.
“We argue a lot when the Spurs and Lakers play,” said Arredondo, who wore a purple and gold sombrero and Lakers poncho. “We have to be in separate rooms when we watch the games on TV.”
Vallejo, who wore a black Spurs warmup top, grew up in Iraan and lived in Eagle Pass before moving to San Antonio.
“I’ve always been a Spurs fan,” Vallejo said.
Salinas made the trip to San Antonio with his wife, Lorraine, and his friend, Charlie O’Con and O’Con’s wife, Alma, who are Spurs fans.
“We go back and forth,” Charlie O’Con said. “We have a lot of fun when the Lakers and Spurs play.”
So given his South Texas roots, has Salinas ever rooted for the Spurs in the NBA finals?
“No way,” he said. “I’ll pull for the opposite team. When they played Cleveland (in 2007), I got me a Cavaliers shirt.”
Gabriella Linares and her boyfriend, Frank Solorzano, also are on opposite sides of the rivalry. They both graduated from O’Connor High School in 2009, but have nothing in common when it comes to their rooting interest in the NBA.
“I kind of like all the NBA teams and I think (Manu) Ginobili is magnificent,” Solorzano said, referring to the Spurs’ guard. “But I could never be a Spurs fan. The Spurs are a really good team and they’ll give the Lakers a good game, but in the end, the champions always win.”
Linares smiled as Solorzano spoke.
“You’ll see tonight,” she said.
Local high school sports broadcaster Bobby Stautzenberger shook his head and mockingly apologized as I caught sight of his son, Judson, who was wearing Lakers garb and had his face painted with the team’s colors.
“I tried, I tried,” said Stautzenberger, who wore a black Spurs shirt.
Spurs fan Bonnie Carrisal spoke briefly with her friend, Lluvia Waggoner, a Lakers fan, after the game.
“It was a horrible game,” Waggoner said.
Carrisal, of course, saw it differently.
“It was beautiful,” she said.
Spurs facing some of best teams in league
The game against the Lakers marked the start of a tough five-game stretch for the Spurs.
San Antonio plays at Dallas (24-6) on Thursday before returning home to face Oklahoma City (21-11) on Saturday night. The Spurs play the Knicks (18-13) in New York on Jan. 4 and the Celtics (24-5) in Boston the following night.
Dallas is No. 2 in the Western Conference behind the Spurs and the Boston leads the Eastern Conference.