I was in Las Vegas last fall for an L.A. Lakers preseason game with my son. At a kickoff party, I was talking to a football player who happened to be in town. He wasn't a Lakers fan or anything—not the way my son and I are.
"Wow, you really are dedicated," he said. "I've never seen anyone fly to Vegas just for a preseason game." He asked if I'd just started following the team. I told him that I'd been a fan for at least 20 years. He gave me a look, as if to say he doubted that. Then he challenged me: "Well, then, who was in the starting lineup 20 years ago?" So I told him the names I remembered: James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Byron Scott.
He made a face like I had told him his mother was short. I returned the look. He said that wasn't the correct lineup and named a different one. He was adamant. Guys tend to want to show up women when it comes to sports, and while I usually do end up proved right, for a minute he had me questioning myself. So I phoned a friend of mine who plays in the NBA and asked him the question, and he rattled off the same lineup I had. And then I called another pal, the general manager of an NBA team, and he said a whole different lineup. So now we were up to three different lineups.
When I got back from Vegas, the first thing I did was open a Lakers DVD a friend had given me for my birthday. Sure enough, I was right! The guy I'd been going back and forth with—his lineup was almost right. And the GM I had contacted was dead-on but for a different year. I was thinking about the mid-eighties Lakers who battled the Boston Celtics for the championship; those guys remembered the early-eighties Lakers, rivals of the Philadelphia 76ers. But then I stopped myself: Why did I get so worked up about proving this guy wrong?
I do this a lot. We all do. We have pointless arguments over stuff that doesn't matter a lick in the grand scheme of things. I spent half the party on my cell phone because I just had to prove him wrong, to show that I knew my Lakers. Was it really that serious? No. Did it matter who knew what? No. What mattered was that we all had these wonderful shared memories from 20-plus years ago, when a few great Lakers teams played some beautiful basketball.
I decided at that moment not to waste my energy trying to be right all the time. See: I'm not even going to call him and tell him he was wrong. But it's gonna be really hard not to mention it the next time I see him.
Regina King appears on the Fox TV series 24.