LOS ANGELES -- The Finals start now, baby.
They do, at least, according to one Lakers fan in a white Kobe Bryant jersey, who yelled the phrase to no one in particular (and loudly) outside of the Staples Center this morning.
The Lakers' home arena was a ghost town last night, but it's bustling with activity this morning. Crews are still putting the finishing touches on the arena, but actual basketball fans have also shown up for tonight's Game 3 against the Celtics.
A line of about 25 people, clad mostly in Lakers' gear, snaked around the side of the arena near the entrance to the ticket window. The team often releases a limited number of tickets on game days, according to the fans and confirmed by a Staples Center employee working the ticket window.
Several fans said they had been here since 10 p.m. Monday evening, while others said they arrived at 6 a.m. this morning. All said they were optimistic about getting tickets and optimistic about the Lakers' chances in the series.
"It's going seven," said Ark Sardarov, a Lakers fan from Burbank who thinks the Lakers will win all three games in Los Angeles. "Although if they lose tonight, it's definitely over."
"Now your referees can't help you," said another fan, who declined to give his name but said he is from Inglewood and claimed to know Paul Pierce when Pierce was growing up. Check out his video at the bottom of this entry.
The fan was a little wary of Boston reporters, but he wasn't wary of hometown boy Pierce's affiliation with a Boston team.
"He still comes back here," the fan said. "He came from Inglewood. We can't be mad at him. He's got a job to do. But we know he's a Laker at heart."