Don Diamont Weighs In On His Favorite Sports Teams

Roots For: 
The Los Angeles 

When did you become a Lakers fan? “We moved here from New York when I was very young and I can’t even put my finger on when — I just grew up with Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich. That is the incarnation of the Lakers I remember.”

Did you have a favorite player? “I was a big Jerry West fan. I went to his basketball camp when I was 15 or 16. Actually, there was a free throw-shooting contest and I ended up getting through all the stages, to the quarters and then the semis and then to the finals, and when you won your age group, you shot the best out of 10 against Jerry West. He missed one and I made all 10. That was very exciting, and honestly, it still is. So yes, I grew up with the Lakers and that carries on through Magic [Johnson] and James Worthy and Byron Scott and on to Kobe [Bryant] and Shaq [Shaquille O’Neal].”
What has been your proudest moment as a fan? “Oh, my goodness. Pick one. The Lakers have had so many great streaks, and yes, a couple of years were not so great, but it’s hard not to root for them.”

What was your most heartbreaking moment as a fan? “Well, playing against the [Boston] Celtics. Some of those moments were painful, losing to the Celtics, particularly in the finals. We did have down years…. Being a Lakers fan is like being a [New York] Yankees fan. It’s championship or bust. It’s like, you are not successful until you’ve won the championship.”

Have you gone to a lot of games in person? “Oh, yeah. Over the years, I went to some of those great championship games. I was there for one of the Kobe/Shaq championship games.”

You’ve actually gotten to meet some of the players. Tell us about those relationships. “Actually, when my dad was sick, Byron Scott got us into a closed Lakers playoff practice, which was pretty unheard of, and Magic played one-on-one with me so my dad could see it happen. It was very cool, and I have pictures of that somewhere. Byron also played with me so my dad could see it. That was very touching. He is a great, great guy and we are still friends to this day.”

Any other memorable encounters with team members? “I actually played three-on-three with Shaq at Sports Club LA, which is now called Equinox. That was a big thrill. I used to run with Magic. I played one-on-one with Kobe his first year in the league. That was a big thrill. Yes, I have a lot of history with the Lakers.”

Your sons are athletes themselves. Are they also Lakers fans? “Oh, yeah. We are a Lakers house. [Wife] Cindy is a little bit of an outsider because she had [L.A.] Clippers tickets for years and I said, ‘Of course you had season seats, because they were giving them away [laughs].’ So, we tend to good-naturedly abuse her for any positive feelings toward the Clippers.”

Do you have team memorabilia? “For the Lakers? Heck, yeah! I have sweatshirts, champion sweatshirts, hats … I have a signed Sports Illustrated with Magic. I also have a signed magazine with Kobe, may he rest in peace.”

How often do you get to see games live? “Honestly, we travel so much for my sons’ football games that I like to be home. We will occasionally go to a game but we definitely enjoy watching from home these days.”

Did you and the family ever have Lakers parties at your home? “Oh, yes, over the years. It has been quite a while but yes, for sure.”

So, considering your history, do you think of yourself as an honorary Laker? “Yes. Absolutely. I am a legend in my own mind.”