I hope you had a terrific holiday season, filled with family friends, food and fun, and maybe even a little bit of sports. Southern California’s sports “New Year” starts off with a bang.
On New Year’s Day, more than 92,000 college football fans will fill Pasadena’s Rose Bowl and millions more will watch as the first ever college football playoffs kickoff with a semifinal game between the No. 2 ranked Oregon Ducks and the No. 3 ranked Florida State Seminoles. And, while the Valero Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2 is being played in San Antonio Texas, locals will be glued to their television sets (or those at their favorite watering hole) to watch the No. 14 ranked UCLA Bruins take on the No. 11 ranked Kansas State Wildcats.
For Southern California NFL fans, it’s been a tough couple of weeks. The NFL delivered a lump of coal for Christmas this year when Scrooge (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) announced that there would not be a team in Los Angeles in 2015. This news comes at the 20-year mark of the Raiders leaving Los Angeles without a team when they moved to Oakland in 1995. Now, our one local team, the San Diego Chargers, had only to beat the Kansas City Chiefs on the last day of the regular season to make the playoffs. However, it was not to be and it is time for a loud, “Wait for next year!”
For the hoops fans among us, the Los Angeles Clippers (fighting for a playoff spot) and the Los Angeles Lakers (fighting for a high draft pick), have a busy January. The Clippers will host the Philadelphia 76ers (Jan. 3), Atlanta Hawks (Jan. 5), Los Angeles Lakers (Jan. 7), Dallas Mavericks (Jan. 10), Miami Heat (Jan. 11), Cleveland Cavaliers (Jan. 16), Boston Celtics (Jan. 19), Brooklyn Nets (Jan. 22) and wrap up the month with the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 26.
The Lakers host the Memphis Grizzlies (Jan. 2), Indiana Pacers (Jan. 4), Orlando Magic (Jan. 9), Portland Trail Blazers (Jan. 11), Miami Heat (Jan. 13), Cleveland Cavaliers (Jan. 15), Houston Rockets (Jan. 25), Washington Wizards (Jan. 27) and close out the month hosting the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 29. Both the Clippers and the Lakers are to play home games at the Staples Center.
If you enjoy college basketball, you have a few good game options. USC is off to a good start and is to host four games at the Galen Center in January: California Golden Bears (Jan. 7), Stanford Cardinal (Jan. 11), cross-town rival UCLA Bruins (Jan. 14) and the Colorado Buffaloes on Jan. 29.
Pauley Pavilion is home to the UCLA Bruins and January has them hosting the Stanford Cardinals (Jan. 8), Cal Bears (Jan. 11), Utah Runnin’ Utes (Jan. 29) and closing out the month on the Jan. 31 when the Colorado Buffaloes take the court.
Across much of the country, January means snow and plenty of it. Here in the desert known as Southern California, we find our frozen water at the Staples Center, where the 2014 Stanley Cup, world championship-winning Los Angeles Kings host the Nashville Predators (Jan. 3), Winnipeg Jets (Jan. 10), Toronto Maple Leafs (Jan. 12), New Jersey Devils (Jan. 14), Calgary Flames (Jan. 19) and the Chicago Blackhawks (Jan. 28). Additionally, the Ducks will be driving up from Anaheim for a game on Jan. 17.
The Anaheim Ducks’ home ice is the Honda Center, and January is a busy month as the team will be hosting the St. Louis Blues (Jan. 2), Nashville Predators (Jan. 4), Rangers (Jan. 7) Winnipeg Jets (Jan. 11), Toronto Maple Leafs (Jan. 14), and the New Jersey Devils (Jan. 16). On Jan. 21 the Calgary Flames visit and the Anaheim Ducks close out the month by hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 30.
For the events listed above, more detailed information is available at the team and event websites. Be sure to check for dates, times and ticket availability. Please know that this short column only touches the surface of the various sporting events available for your attending and viewing pleasure. I’ve tried to cover the “bigger events” and a couple of those that might be less known. While you’re visiting, should you find an upcoming event that you think would be of interest, or one I missed this month but should note for next year, just drop me a line. Enjoy!