The Morning Column: October 26, 2021

The Lakers and Dodgers didn’t get their championship parade in 2020 and wouldn’t have gotten one this year but what if they were included in the 2022 Rose Parade?

Yesterday I suggested that the floats on a championship parade for the Lakers and Dodgers had not completely sailed away despite both teams’ failed bids at back-to-back titles.

The dreams of the Lakers and Dodgers repeating as champions and celebrating with their fans in Los Angeles may have died last week when the Dodgers lost to the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS (after the Lakers were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in June) but did their shortcomings in 2021 negate their victories in 2020?

The Lakers, Dodgers and city officials said they would celebrate the Lakers and Dodgers winning championships in 2020 when it was “safe to do so.”

The last time the Lakers won the championship in 2010, their parade drew an estimated crowd of about 2 million to downtown Los Angeles as the Lakers paraded down Figueroa Street from Staples Center to the USC campus. Over 1,700 officers were needed to patrol the event and the cost of the parade was $2 million with the Lakers and the city splitting the bill.

Even if the Lakers and Dodgers had repeated as champions this year, would they have gotten the parade they had been waiting for? Probably not. It’s hard to imagine the city signing off on an event that would attract 2 million people to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles, deploying 1,700 officers to patrol the city sanctioned event and spending millions of dollars to stage it.

Perhaps they would have gotten a ticketed rally at Staples Center or Dodger Stadium with COVID-19 mandates in place but it’s hard to imagine a parade would be something the city would help stage at this time given the restrictions on large public gatherings and the strict COVID-19 mandates throughout Los Angeles County.

But what if that changes by the end of the year? What if by January, the mandates are lifted and we can have large gatherings again? I had originally suggested having a parade on or around February 24, 2022, which would be during the NBA All-Star break and one day before the Lakers resume the season at Staples Center against the Clippers and two days before the Dodgers start spring training in Arizona. Some fans liked the idea of having a parade to not only celebrate the Lakers and Dodgers’ championships in 2020 but perhaps the end to the restrictions we’ve been living under the past two years. Many fans, however, pushed back on the idea of having a celebration over a year later and with new champions crowned in the NBA and MLB.

I get both sides. It’s unusual to celebrate winning a 2020 championship in 2022 but then again, it’s not “normal” to go through a global pandemic for two years.  

The Lakers and Dodgers didn’t get their championship parade in 2020 and quite honestly, they wouldn’t have gotten one this year even if they had repeated as champions in 2021 but what if they were a part of a parade already scheduled to take place? What if they were included in the 2022 Rose Parade?

LeVar Burton was named the Grand Marshal of the 2022 Rose Parade earlier this month but what if LeBron James, who was the 2020 NBA Finals MVP, and Corey Seager, who was the 2020 World Series MVP, were named honorary Grand Marshals? What if there was Lakers float and a Dodgers float and a handful of players and coaches from the championship teams on each float? Frank Vogel, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo could ride the Lakers float while Dave Roberts, Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias would be on the Dodgers float.

The Lakers are scheduled to have an off day on Jan. 1, the day of the Rose Parade, after playing a home game against the Portland Trailblazers on Dec. 31 and taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Jan. 2. The Dodgers would be over a month away from the start of spring training in Arizona. Like previous Rose Parade Grand Marshals, the Lakers and Dodgers would be recognized at some point on the field before 90,000 fans during the Rose Bowl game.

This wouldn’t be a parade or a rally for the Lakers and Dodgers winning the championship in 2020, but rather a celebration of both franchises and what they mean to Los Angeles and how they lifted the spirits of the city during the pandemic. It wouldn’t be the first time both teams had a float in the Rose Parade. In 2016, the Lakers had their first-ever float in the Rose Parade complete with a replica of the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and the team’s retired jerseys. And in 2008, the Dodgers had a float in the Rose Parade, which included Dodger organist Nancy Bea Hefley playing, “Take Me out to the Ballgame” atop the float. By the way, neither team had much to celebrate at the time of their floats. The Lakers were in the midst of a 26-56 season and the Dodgers were coming off a fourth place finish in the NL West.

The 2021 Rose Parade was canceled and the 2021 Rose Bowl game was moved to Arlington, Texas and played before less than 20,000 socially distanced fans at AT&T Stadium. The 2022 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game could be our first semblance of normalcy and resuming old traditions since the start of the pandemic two years earlier. While the ship may have sailed on a Lakers and Dodgers championship parade in 2020 or 2021, it’s not too late to make them a part of the next big scheduled parade.