The Stanley Cup is arguably the most famous trophy in team sports. Named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the governor general of Canada, it has been around since 1892.
By comparison, the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which goes to the Super Bowl winner, has been around since 1971. The NBA named its championship trophy after Larry O’Brien in 1984. Here’s guessing most people do not even know that Larry O’Brien was formerly an NBA commissioner.
The Stanley Cup has been big news in Southern California ever since June 11, when the Los Angeles Kings became the real kings of hockey and ended 45 years of frustration by defeating the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the NHL Finals.
L.A. has been Hockey Town USA ever since. It has been one celebration after another, with the Stanley Cup always at the center of it all. There was an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on June 12, followed by a visit to Dodger Stadium the next night, then the downtown parade, and on Monday, a rally in Hermosa Beach, where most of the players live.
I got a chance to pay an up close-and-personal visit to the Cup on Tuesday night, courtesy of play-by-play announcer Bob Miller, who has been with the Kings since 1973. He invited friends to the Braemar Country Club in Tarzana for a viewing.
Bob and his wife Judy found out Sunday evening that they could get the Cup for four hours Tuesday night. “When we started to hastily make out a guest list, we soon realized we had too many people to invite to have it at our house,” Judy said.
Bob Miller, a Chicago native and Iowa graduate, was the voice of University of Wisconsin sports when he started his long career with the Kings. That same year, I started writing a TV-Radio sports column for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and later continued the column after switching over to the Los Angeles Times in 1978.
In all, I wrote about the business of sports broadcasting and sports broadcasters for nearly 35 years, and had the privilege of getting to know Bob Miller. No question he is an L.A. sports broadcasting legend, ranking up there with Vin Scully and the late Chick Hearn. He also is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth person I ever known.
There is a saying in sports journalism: “No cheering in the press box.” That means sports journalists are not supposed to cheer for the home teams. However, I confess that, even though over the years I have never been a huge hockey fan, I was cheering loudly in front of my TV for the Kings to bring home the Stanley Cup.
The main reason for that was Bob Miller. He deserved it and I was thrilled for him. Getting a photo with Bob and the Cup was just frosting on the cake. I could not have thought of a better way to celebrate the Kings’ amazing playoff run.