Except for basketball. Love basketball. To me it is the most skilled and beautiful to watch of any sport. (The way I play it? – another thing altogether.)

Every player on the court has to contribute, move constantly, see everything, every moment, and be ready for split-second moves that require instant reaction. Snooze, lose. My friend Greg used to tell me, during a discouragingly fruitless period of trying to make a decent player out of me, “if I get half a step on you, that’s it, I’m gone, you’re toast.” In the NBA, that’s the blink of an eye. Other sports have their moments of unbelievable athleticism, full of grace, but any decent game of pro hoops has dozens of them.

But the concept of organized, broadcast team sports is pretty lame. Never forget, folks, it’s a business. Big, big billions business. You have collections of gladiators, bought and paid for by your city or school, in which you invest your identity and waste huge amounts of time watching on TV; assemblages of privileged, hyped student-athletes or multimillionaire pros you quickly grow to “know” and “love” (our team! the Baggywumps! go Baggywumps!! Kill … the other guys!), who will abandon you in a New York minute for another team, for a few dollars more.

Sometimes the pro teams offer better story lines than soap operas. (Don’t get me started on the NFL.) Did you see the MLS pro soccer championship game this past weekend? Of course you didn’t. Me either. I’m an American; I don’t watch soccer. We need scoring, dammit. The flopping is ridiculous and we can’t tolerate bad acting here in Hollywood. And that whole thing of deciding a championship by a penalty kick shoot out? Gimme a break.

But our – “our” – Galaxy have now won more titles than any other team, and our retiring star Landon Donovan claims six trophies, a record. Winning that championship, in overtime, in the last game of your career, is a Hollywood ending. (That’s something I do love about sports – no happy ending guarantees. The team, or individual player, that by all rights, of might or sentiment, should win, doesn’t always win. In any particular game, anything can happen, and David can beat Goliath.)

It was sweet vindication for Donovan, considered the best American player ever, for having been left off the U.S. World Cup team by its German coach, in favor of younger, very inexperienced players. (One was 18.)

It reminded me of the disrespect shown Pau Gasol, the man who brought two championships to L.A., benched by Mike D’Antoni, the Lakers horribly out-of-step, downright inept coach for two long years. Gasol is now tearing up the league and making a contender of Chicago, where he took his unrequited love. Also bye bye one-year Laker Dwight Howard, likewise having a banner year at now-contender Houston. Imagine how much fun the Lakers would be to watch with those twin towers and the amazingly recovered, rejuvenated old man Kobe Bryant?

Jerry Buss was a visionary owner who built the Laker franchise into absolute gold, but he made one terrible, final mistake: designating son Jim to be in charge after his death. Jim is clueless, despite decades of mentoring by his brilliant father, and in less than a year he destroyed the franchise, for many years to come.

A pox on you, Jim Buss – I love only one sport and one pro team in it, and you rip it to shreds like a spoiled brat. Go away and let your sister Jeanie run the team.

My last sports note: I can’t believe that in recounting my Thanksgiving bowling injury in last week’s column, I completely forgot about my klutz-in-arms, former Laker Andrew Bynum, whose bowling injury knocked him off the hoops court. I’m not the only one! But mine was a fluke, unpredictable, and his was wear and tear on already fragile knees. Not too smart to risk a career and a gazillion dollar contract on … bowling.

Know who reminded me of that bizarre incident, as soon as I mentioned my own bowling injury? My optometrist, of course. I’ve been going to Robert Dickey, on Montana, for literally decades because he is simply the best. The bonus is he’s a personable guy who knows a lot about sports and even more about music. I popped in recently and it was lunchtime and the office emptied out and we had a chance for a good 20-minute chat about music, obscure and old and brand new. A lot about Fripp. King Crimson and Andrew Bynum – what more could you want from your ace optometrist?

HERE IN SANTA MONICA OUR FAVORITE SPORT IS POLITICS. So the annual holiday party thrown by former mayor Judy Abdo is like a Super Bowl after party, especially in an election year. The house is historic, the back yard large enough for a posse of running, screaming kids, the food yummy, the drinks plentiful and the atmosphere convivial, considering just a month ago many of these people were saying the nastiest things about each other. There are more mayors, ex-mayors and future mayors than you could shake a stick at, council members and wannabes and tried-to-bes. I heard reports of some awkward situations but Abdo’s gathering seems to be the one where the lambs lie down with the lions. Who is our new mayor, chosen last night? I can’t wait to find out, when I pick up this paper.

I went early and left early, missing some great conversations, I’m sure, but as usual in Santa Monica there’s just too much to fit in, and I really wanted to catch at least the post-intermission Beethoven’s Ninth at Barnum Hall, by the Santa Monica Symphony. Glad I did. It’s one of the most monumental undertakings in classical music, and the Symphony players and singers delivered impressively. The players are volunteers but mostly pros. I heard from several that the opening part of the program was really good. Their next concert (always free), in their 70th season, is their annual MLK Day concert Jan. 17. I’ll be there.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” – Mark Twain

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him

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