EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Lakers travel in different circles, so Monday night's pairing of the teams at a launch party for Time Warner Cable's new regional networks in Southern California meant plenty to the reigning MLS Cup champions.
The Lakers are probably LA's favorite team, all things considered, and they've got a decent following among the Galaxy, who have 10 players from Southern California – plus David Beckham, a constant in the courtside seats.
“I'm standing, one side I've got Magic [Johnson], the other side I've got Dwight [Howard],” Beckham told MLSsoccer.com as he reached the end of the red carpet before Monday's festivities began. “And Kobe [Bryant], I just seen him in the studio. It's a great night.”
The Galaxy, Lakers and the WNBA's Sparks are the first three teams to sign on with Time Warner's network, which began programming this week, and the party drew players and club officials from all three – including Lakers legends Magic Johnson and James Worthy – along with some B- and C-list celebrities, at least one 2012 Olympic medalist (long/triple jumper Will Claye), a Lucha Libre star (El Hijo del Santo, wearing his mask, of course), the Lakers Girls and some very big wigs you might not recognize, including wealthy locals who ponied up for the Dodgers and are expected to bid for AEG.
The soccer contingent included former Galaxy and Mexican national team goalkeeper Jorge Campos and former US national team and Galaxy coach Steve Sampson, who will be an on-air analyst with the network.
Some of the Lakers are soccer fans. There's Bryant, who's been seen on occasion at the Home Depot Center. And Pau Gasol, the Spaniard. And Howard, who just joined LA from the Orlando Magic and was looking for some Galaxy merchandise.
“I need a Galaxy snapback [hat],” he reported. “I have probably about 150 snapbacks, and I need one of those.”
Gasol said he doesn’t watch MLS “too closely,” but he is a keen follower of the European game.
“Obviously, I follow La Liga and I follow most of the European leagues,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “Obviously, the Champions League is the main event as far as soccer clubs go, so I follow that very closely.”
He says going to a Galaxy game is “on my list,” especially with Beckham is in his ear.
“I should [go to a game],” he said. “I'll talk to David about it. He's been telling me to come, and I just haven't had a chance, because usually when they start, it's when we start the playoffs, more or less. And the offseason I'm back in Europe, in Spain, and when we get back, we have the training game – it's difficult to make it work. It's difficult to match [up the schedules], but I've got to make it work. I'll find a way.”
Gasol is looking forward to next weekend's Barcelona-Real Madrid showdown. Who is he rooting for?
“Barcelona,” said the former FC Barcelona Bàsquet youth product. “I always root for my team. And it's a good bet, even though Madrid is playing better lately. And [Barcelona] plays at home, too. Barcelona is my favorite.”
Beckham, who spent four years with Real Madrid, says he had no plans to trash-talk Gasol before the game: “No, he's a Real Madrid fan.” Uh, David, he says he's rooting for Barça. “He did? I thought he was a Real Madrid fan. I will give him a bit of stick.”