Lakers Season Ticket Holder of 54 Years Calls the Organization ‘Toxic’

Joe Smith is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan who’s owned very expensive season tickets for over 50 years. He’s not only fed up with the team’s play on the court, but also angry with the organization’s questionable marketing tactics (to say nothing of an apparent lack of a cohesive plan going forward). Per the LA Times:

The former record mogul has four season seats on the baseline next to the Lakers bench. He has held those seats since the team arrived in Los Angeles. He has become as much of a fixture under the basket as the ballboys and Laker girls. No single ticket holder has endured longer, and certainly no single fan has invested more.

For 54 years, Joe Smith has loved the Lakers graciously, gratefully and unconditionally.

But then, two weeks ago, nearing the conclusion of the most rudderless, ridiculous Lakers season in history, Smith received a letter from the Lakers asking that he renew his season tickets two months earlier than in previous seasons.

That’s long before anyone will have any idea about the makeup of the future roster and coaching staff. That also enables the Lakers to collect an extra two months of interest on Smith’s $400,000-plus investment. All for a team that probably will finish with the franchise’s worst record since it came to Los Angeles.

After all this time, Joe Smith is finally considering dumping his tickets.

“This is so out of line,” said Smith. ”The organization has become toxic from top to bottom.”

“I can stand losing, but not the way they are losing,” said Smith. “Not with a coach who has an enormous wave of sentiment against him … not with all the confusion in the front office … it’s become a pathetic operation.”

The final straw for Smith was the letter, sent to the owners of the 14,500 season tickets, announcing the new final ticket renewal deadline is May 19. That is not only much earlier than in previous years, but it is also one day before the NBA draft lottery, smack in the middle of what could be a coaching search, and nearly two months before the Lakers will have a chance to begin signing free agents.

“For those of us who have been with them for 54 years, in good times and bad times, this is unconscionable,” said Smith. “They’re not going to be good for another couple of years at least, there’s times they look like a Developmental League team, it’s really no fun, yet they are arrogantly demanding that we renew earlier and hold our money even longer?”

When contacted for this story, Lakers officials note that they are not increasing the ticket prices — which only means for every home game, Smith still pays $2,750 per seat and $200 for valet parking.

“The world is changing, and as it does, so do the way companies, and not just sports teams, do business,” said John Black, team spokesman. “We need more time to implement new technology for the upgrade and renewal process, and we’re agreeing to the league’s demands that we fall in line with all other NBA team renewal deadlines.”

“I really hate to say this, but right now, you want good and entertaining basketball in this town, you go to the Clippers,” Smith said quietly, almost in a whisper.