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LAist Staff Interview: Manny Uche

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It is no secret that whomever stepped up to the plate after the departure of LAist's great sports mind, Phillip Wallace, had huge shoes to fill. We've gone through several false starts with a few different people attempting to tackle (writer's note - do you love how we're running with the football metaphors on Championship Sunday?) the daunting challenge of covering the endless number of sports teams and sports stories of the Southland.

Then Manny showed up and promptly ruffled feathers. The LAist inbox was filled with questions wondering "who is this guy and what in the heck does he know about sports?".

We'll let him tell you in his own words.

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Age and Occupation:
I have been aging in Dog Years since the whole Kobe, Shaq fiasco so I’m coming up on 60. QA Investigator for a genetics lab and sports writer for LAist.

Home Town:
Northampton, England

Current LA Neighborhood:
Beautiful West Los Angeles.

How long have you lived in Los Angeles and where?
I have been here since I was 7 years old and I think I have been in every corner of LA. Arleta, Pasadena, Palms, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Miracle Mile, Glendale, Burbank, Leimert Park. Really, my family was seriously nomadic.

How'd you end up writing for LAist?
Through YOU man (editor-at-large's note - yeah, me) !!! I heard that LAist was looking for a sports guy. I love sports so just half jokingly volunteered not really thinking that I would get a shot. When I got a chance to submit an entry, I jumped at it.

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So, let's talk about sports. What sports stories are on your mind right now?
Besides the NFL playoffs, there are a lot of local sports topics right now: the second remake of the Dodgers, the continued growth of the Angels, Year Two of the Kobe Era, the Clippers making a run at the playoffs, the end of the USC dynasty and UCLA football finally winning a bowl game.

Not that we have a pro football team or anything, but who is going to win the Super Bowl this year?
After the stunning upsets that took place, I think that the best team left is the Carolina Panthers. The have the D and Steven Smith is on another level. He just makes plays. They have been playing playoff football for the past 4 or 5 games and they have been there before. They know what it takes.

Kobe or Shaq?
I have been going back and forth on this since it went down. If I were the GM (of if Jerry West was still in town) BOTH would still be here. I absolutely believe that. But if I have a gun to my head and I have to trade one, I trade Shaq and get A LOT more back than what the Lakers did.

Should the Lakers trade for Ron Artest?
Absolutely not. He is the LAST thing we need on a team that is trying to rebuild. His attitude is just not where its supposed to be. Talented player when he is all there, but I don't see him and Kobe co-existing. Besides, we have enough guard/forwards. We need a center or a power forward.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Anaheim Angels or California Angels?
The California Angels. I'm an old school kinda guy. I mean c'mon, who are they trying to kid with that Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim crap?

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How 'bout them Dodgers?
Seriously, what happened? Who are these guys? Its like Ned Colletti came in and tried to get great names of the past, bring them here, and hope for the best. I hope he has the fountain of youth somewhere back there too. Five, six, seven years ago, this team would be a definite World Series contender. Now they are a bunch of guys on the downside of their career. Lofton? Garciaparra? Alomar Jr.???? If we weren't in the NL West, we would be picked to finish last without hesitation. But with the division the way it is, we could finish anywhere from third to probably winning it and making the playoffs (I can't believe I just said playoffs and Dodgers without smashing my head against the wall. I need to collect myself). I haven't even mentioned the pitching situation or the other outfield positions. Let me stop. My head is spinning.

What's your favorite LA Sports team (year and franchise)?
Wow, that is a tough one. There have been so many great teams. Three that come to mind are the '88 Dodgers, the '87-'88 Lakers, and the '95 National Champion UCLA Bruins basketball team. But, being that I am a baseball guy, I would have to say... the Repeat Champion Los Angeles Lakers! Are you kidding me? Sure the Dodgers had the magic in '88, and were one of the greatest baseball stories of all time. But the Lakers embodied everything that was LA. They were "Showtime"! They had the stars, Jack, Dyan Cannon and the FABULOUS FORUM. Riley's Guarantee, Magic the ringleader, the former UCLA legend Kareem, the immortal play-by-play man Chick Hearn. Those were amazing years during the Golden Era of the NBA and the Lakers were king.

Best LA Sports Venue?
Dodger Stadium, far and away. No other venue, besides the Rose Bowl, has the history, the tradition or the fan support. Besides, NOTHING beats watching a game at Dodger Stadium.

Describe LA in one sentence:
Good luck if you don't have a car.

LA has the best:
Reasons to call in sick. Sometimes it looks just too good outside to be sitting in an office all day inside.

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You haven't really lived in LA until:
You've been awakened by an earthquake.
You've been stuck in traffic on the 405.
You've recognized your neighborhood in a televised police chase.
You've made a early morning run to Tommy's for chili burgers.

What is your LA pet peeve?
The lack of any real alternate transportation (rail system, helloooo).

What is the "center" of LA to you?
The 405. Anytime I need to know how to get anywhere in LA, the first thing I ask is, "How do I get there from the 405?"

Describe your best LA dining experience.
Two Double Doubles with grilled onions, no lettuce and an extra large lemonade at In-N-Out Burger after watching the Dodgers beat the Giants in a night game... don't forget the victory shake!

Where do you want to be when the Big One hits?