VENTURE: Latin Night and The Masked Mamba

By Jesse Merrick, staff writer | communication studies major

Imagine an afternoon filled with drama, revenge, Latin heritage, and a masked man all in the heart of Los Angeles. What in the world could I be talking about?

If you guessed a screening of the Mask of Zorro in L.A., nice try, but you’re not even close!

I’m obviously talking about the matchup between the Los Angles Lakers and the Miami Heat, or should I say Los Lakers and El Heat as displayed on their jerseys for Latin nightat the Staples Center on Sunday, Mar. 4.

What about the masked man? This man is none other than Kobe “Bean” Bryant, also known as the “Black Mamba.” In case you haven’t already heard, Kobe Bryant was fouled in the NBA All-Star game last weekend by Miami Heat Guard Dwayne Wade, leaving the Lakers star with a fractured nose and a minor concussion. Thanks to that injury Kobe is now forced to wear a plastic facemask to shield his broken nose from further damage. Thus, the masked mamba was born (enmascarado mamba, for those of you who didn’t pay attention in Spanish class).

The stage was set for revenge as the Lakers took on the Heat, seeking their first win in the series after losing the previous three to Miami.

Lakers games are great to go to for any sports enthusiasts, and why not take advantage of the proximity to LA to catch a game?

The sold out Staples Center was packed with fans and stars alike. I had the privilege of viewing this game with the likes of Denzel Washington, Lil Wayne, Landon Donovan, Terry Crews, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kiss Guitarist Paul Stanley, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, and soccer star David Beckham, who was celebrating his son, Brooklyn’s birthday.

The frenzy surrounding the Lakers is the same as ever and Laker nation came out in great form today, sporting ponchos and sombreros to support their hometown team in a matchup between two great teams looking to finish the second half of the season strong.

The fans took it upon themselves to make sure Dwayne Wade didn’t feel welcomed in their house, booing the Heat star upon his introduction and just about every other opportunity they had thereafter. The roof nearly came off when Wade fouled out of the game with 5:14 left in the game.

The Lakers came out strong, taking a 50-38 lead at the end of the first half only to see this lead dwindle to two points halfway through the third quarter. After withstanding this run by the Heat, the Lakers managed to finish nearly as strong as they started en route to a 93-83 win, pushing their record at the Staples Center this season to 17-2.

Kobe was once again unfazed by the mask, leading all scorers with 33 points. The Lakers received much help from Metta World Peace, the guy who thanked Jesus he still has his teeth in an interview, tacked on 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 assists.

The Heat head back home to Miami with a 28-9 record to face the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday when Chris Bosh will return to the team after missing the last three games due to a family issue.

The Lakers, at 23-14 look to keep things rolling as they head out of town for a three game road trip to take on the Pistons, Wizards and Timberwolves.

If you book tickets in advance, you can go too and be amongst the stars for the game for under $50.

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