NBA, College Basketball, NHL and Disney in One Weekend? A Magical Weekend in the City of Angels
Being a fan in the second-largest media market in the country comes in handy during the winter. With the two-time defending champion Lakers headlining the show, Los Angeles also features the Clippers, LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and UCLA and USC basketball in supporting roles. All of those teams are playing at home this weekend, and when you throw in some time checking out Universal Studios, Disneyland and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Sports Power Weekend in Los Angeles is certainly in order.
- Staples Center
- LA Live
The Staples Center will get some serious play this weekend with the Lakers, Clippers and Kings all hosting games, but the atmosphere of the latter two simply does not match up to a Lakers home game. Throw in the fact that the Lakers are playing the Clippers, the “second” tenant in the building, and there will be some serious buzz in downtown Los Angeles on Friday night.
The Staples Center is a building of champions. The Lakers capped off each of their first three seasons at the Staples Center with NBA championships, and even the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks captured back-to-back championships during their first two seasons calling the arena home. The Kings and Clippers have made this place theirs as well, setting attendance and sellout records for their franchises since moving in.
The concessions at the Staples Center can certainly get the job done, but if you don’t want to fill up on arena food there are more than enough restaurant options surrounding the building in the L.A. Live sports and entertainment district. L.A. Live opened in 2007 featuring sports and music venues such as the Staples Center and Nokia Theatre, night clubs, restaurants, a bowling alley, museum and movie theaters. The district has hosted the the GRAMMYs, EMMYs, American Music Awards, ESPYs, American Idol Finals and hundreds of other events, and is a great place to spend the evening.
- Pauley Pavilion
- Hollywood Boulevard
- Staples Center
- Sunset Boulevard
Friday night may have seemed like a main course, but in reality it was just an appetizer for multiple basketball games on Saturday. With UCLA hosting Arizona at 1 PM, USC welcoming Arizona State at 4:30 PM and the Clippers facing the Boston Celtics at 7:30 PM, you can conceivably catch three high-quality games today.
Start off your day with a drive to the beautiful town of Westwood, home of the UCLA Bruins. Los Angeles’ usual perfect weather is a great complement to this walking town and picturesque green campus. Grab a bite to eat at Jerry’s Famous Deli, one of the many locations the restaurant has in southern California. Jerry’s is just down the block from the iconic Westwood Theater, where the red carpet is often rolled out for big movie premieres. Walk the streets and hop in and out of some apparel stores for some UCLA gear. Your best bet for some clothes for the game may be the UCLA bookstore right across from the John Wooden Center. Take a walk around campus before circling back near Bruin Plaza to Pauley Pavilion for the 1 PM game.
The Arizona Wildcats will visit the UCLA Bruins in a matchup of the two strongest teams in the Pac-10 historically. Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965 and has been called home to some of the greatest players in college basketball history, and undoubtedly its greatest coach, John Wooden. The court, named in his and his wife Nell’s honor, sits under 11 NCAA men’s championship banners and retired numbers from UCLA greats Kareem Abdul Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor), Bill Walton, Walt Hazzard, Sidney Wicks, Marques Johnson, Ed O’Bannon, Gail Goodrich, Ann Meyers and Denise Curry. A crowd of 12,829 fans will be on their game for what could be a pivotal Pac-10 showdown.
After the game you are faced with a “good problem.” You can either make your way to downtown Los Angeles to check out UCLA’s cross-town rival USC face off against Arizona State in the Galen Center at 4:30 PM, or you can go explore the city a bit and take in some of the famous sites. Think it over while getting an ice cream sandwich at Diddy Riese. You will not regret this. Unfortunately the timing is such that you probably won’t be able to go to the nearby Apple Pan for what is considered one of the best burgers in Los Angeles, if not California more generally.
If you are going to the 10,258-seat Galen Center for the USC-Arizona State game, make sure to pass through the Rose Garden and catch a glimpse of the nearby LA Coliseum. Since USC is situated in downtown Los Angeles, this game will serve as a good lead-in to the Clippers game at the Staples Center at 7:30 PM. If you would prefer a break to get more familiar with the city, the twenty-minute drive from Westwood to Hollywood Boulevard is a good way to do it.
Walking out in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the surrounding area will create a movie reel of sorts in your mind. Everywhere you turn, you will recognize a landmark from a certain movie or TV show. The Kodak Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Capitol Records Tower, corner of Hollywood and Vine, or the Hollywood and Highland Center (which offers great views of the Hollywood sign) are all in a small radius of one another and offer the glitzy feel that is portrayed in the movies.
After fulfilling your tourist duties in Hollywood, it is time to fill up your stomach. Moving towards Chinatown southeast on the 101 you will pass Dodger Stadium and Elysian Park. Just south of the stadium is a small restaurant that actually serves as a big pre-Dodgers game food spot: Philippe the Original. Get a “French Dipped” sandwich (your choice of meat in a French roll dipped in their “jus”) with their hot mustard in one of the oldest and best-known restaurants in southern California.
Even though you saw a game at the Staples Center last night, it is a different vibe when the Lakers and Clippers play there. After seeing the two-time defending NBA champs last night, now you can see the Clippers take on the team that last won before the Lakers and faced them in the finals in 2010, the Boston Celtics. It is a rare opportunity to see the best of the west and east on back-to-back nights, all the while seeing one of the top young stars in the game in Clippers forward Blake Griffin. Don’t get up during the action; you may miss one of his highlight reel dunks.
After the game, if you would rather branch out instead of spending your second night at L.A. Live, go to Sunset Boulevard where there are a number of bars and restaurants, mostly on the strip between Doheny Drive and North Crescent Heights Boulevard.
- Coral Tree Café
- Universal Studios
- Honda Center (Ducks at 5 PM)
So, yesterday was a big day but if there was one drawback it was that you were sitting down a lot, whether at the basketball games or driving from place to place. Today will allow you to indulge your sense of adventure, at and the same time see some of the behind the scenes action that helps makes Hollywood what it is.
After grabbing some breakfast at Coral Tree Café, a great spot that offers healthy and tasty breakfast options in neaby Encino, head north a bit towards Burbank to check out Universal Studios. There are several options for you at Universal: you can take the studio tour and check out where Hollywood movies are made and see some of the sets for yourself, check out some of the rides and shows that put you inside some of the world’s biggest movies, or simply stroll the CityWalk to amble into the novelty and collectible shops and restaurants or even indoor skydive.
There are a number of restaurants for either a sit-down or quick bite before leaving Universal, but if you want to check out something more local, make your way south a bit towards Glendale to Mambo’s for a Cuban lunch. The restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network, and is as good as it looks on TV.
I hope you didn’t reach your limit on theme parks this morning at Universal, because before tonight’s Anaheim Ducks game at the Honda Center is another special treat in Anaheim: Disneyland. Not every aspect of the park is for kids. If you aren’t interested in the younger targeted portions of the park, check out the Hollywood Pictures Backlot to see sets, props and facades.
There is way more to do at both Universal and Disneyland than you will have time for, but this is a Sports Power Weekend, so we know what the priorities are.
By the time 5 PM rolls around the switch has flipped back to sports, as the Ducks take on the Colorado Avalanche at the Honda Center. The Honda Center opened in 1993 and has housed the Ducks ever since. It was also home to the Los Angeles Clippers from 1994-99 until the Clips moved to the Staples Center. The stadium, which holds more than 17,000 fans, was the site of the Stanley Cup-clinching Game 5 victory over the Ottawa Senators, giving the Ducks their first-ever championship. With the NHL season approaching the stretch run, this could be a pivotal Western Conference matchup.
There you have it. In one weekend you were able to witness a Lakers game, Clippers game, UCLA game, and a Ducks game, and maybe even a USC game as well. Not to mention getting to bask in the reflective glory of Hollywood by visiting the Walk of Fame, Universal Studios, and Disneyland.
Now that is a Power Weekend!