With the Kings just one game away clinching their first Stanley Cup Final championship in the 45-year history of the franchise, I can't help but to wax nostalgically about a team that had essentially become the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL. And like many long-suffering fans, a title is something we thought we would never witness.
When we were young, my friends and I didn't attend Kings games because they were popular or because it was the thing to do. Quite the contrary; we supported the team because we were fans and we were ice hockey enthusiasts. Even when the Lakers were winning championships, we still held our allegiance to the hapless Kings, because they were our hapless Kings.
I've talked with some of my friends who are long-suffering Kings fans. They are put off by what they perceive as "bandwagon fans" who have hitched their wagon to the team because of its winning ways this season. But that doesn't bother me in the least. I say the more fans the better. I would be ecstatic to see a victory parade and local media coverage in the L.A. area of a Kings championship, just like we experienced in the past with the Lakers, Dodgers and Raiders.
I grew up just a stone's throw from the "Fabulous Forum" in Inglewood, the place the Kings first called home beginning in 1967 and lasting until 1999. Even when my family moved to nearby Hawthorne, I lived just a couple of miles from the venue.
When I was a kid, my brother Chris and I would ride our bikes or walk to the Forum and the adjacent Hollywood Park race track. There was a huge drainage pipe that led from the street and ran under Hollywood Park, and we would sneak through the dark and damp corridor and end up just on the fringe of the infield of the race track.
We would also romp around the Forum parking lot, walk around the outside of the facility and fish for stray golf balls at the golf course that was right next to facility.