News Column

Latino Lakers Fans Prove Their Market's Pull

May 8, 2013

Rebecca Villaneda--HispanicBusiness

Adrian Garcia Marquez and Francisco Pinto setting the stage for future seasons of the Lakers en Español.
Adrian Garcia Marquez and Francisco Pinto setting the stage for future seasons of the Lakers en Español.

The Los Angeles Lakers' season may be over, but two stars managed to blossom -– Spanish-language broadcasters Adrian Garcia Marquez and Francisco Pinto.

Marquez and Pinto wrapped their first season covering sports for Time Warner Cable Deportes network, the country's first Spanish-language regional sports network, which launched last October. Thanks to a deal struck by TWC and the Lakers, both broadcasters were part of an independent production team that travelled with the team all season.

"(The Spanish coverage) was a necessity, and like so many other things, you have to wait for the right time, the right organization, and the right partner," Pinto told "It was the Lakers ... the Yankees of basketball, and the Latinos in Los Angeles -– the market was always there."

Garcia Marquez said the feedback was incredible and because of their grassroots approach via social media, he and Pinto were able to have direct contact with the audience.

"The main thing we heard was that the whole familia is watching the Lakers en Español because they were finally able to," Garcia Marquez said, adding that bilingual and bicultural Latinos were excited about the coverage.

It was that saborsito Latino that drove viewers.

"It's the perfect mix of traditional excitement and energy with what ESPN and FOX have already established, which is the credibility part," Garcia Marquez said.

Related story: "Broadcaster Reaches Out to Hispanic Fans of LA Lakers"

The broadcast team also coined basketball terms in Spanish that viewers began tweeting on Twitter, and gave some of the Lakers players nicknames. Garcia Marquez was the one behind the new monikers that are being repeated throughout homes in Southern California. Kobe Bryant was "El Macho," Pao Gasol was "El Dragon," Dwight Howard was "El Monstruo" (The Monster), Steve Nash was "El Mago" (The Magician) and Earl Clark was "El Asesino" (The Assassin).

Bolcanazo is a monster dunk, which borrows from the word bolcan -– a volcanic eruption. The word is an ode to Argentines, who Garcia Marquez said are a huge part of the growth of basketball.

Jumpersito is just a short-range jumper, tripotitlan essentially means Three-point Land with a nod to the Aztec's language, Nahuatl.

"It's a nod to my paises (countries)," Garcia Marquez said. "Basically, it was, just have fun, and that's what we are doing, and at the same time also respect the game and celebrate it, because it's booming – especially with our market."

Pinto, who came to TWC Deportes after 15 years with Univision, said the Lakers' family, including the late Jerry Buss, were welcoming and supportive.

"One of the amazing things about the Lakers is that (despite) all of the titles, championships, players, and all of the money they make, they are still a family operated business," Pinto said. "This is a very small operation, smaller than a lot of people would think they are. It is very hard to get in, but once you get in, they really take care of you in every way."

Even Lakers star Bryant told him that it was about time Hispanic fans were included in the mix.

"You can see it in Staples Center, the amount of Latinos that go and see the games ... Yeah, you may not see us in the lower seats and around the court seats, but if you start to go up, we are 80 percent of the people that go see the games," Pinto said. "As Latinos, we get emotionally invested in the game. ... It's our team, and sometimes we do it more than we should, but it's in our blood. We are the Lakers."

Source: (c) 2013. All rights reserved.

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