Less than two years into his tenure with the San Diego Padres, Matt Kemp was traded to the Atlanta Braves — his third team in as many seasons.
During his first week with the Braves, Kemp endeared himself to the fanbase by proclaiming that Atlanta was the first baseball town he would get to play in.
The comments didn’t sit well with Padres fans, and especially Los Angeles Dodgers fans, who take pride in filling up Dodger Stadium every night and providing a unique home field advantage to the players.
Now that he’s back with the Dodgers, Kemp clarified on those previous remarks and explained that he never intended to insult Dodgers fans, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“A lot of LA fans got mad at me,” he said with a smile. “I’m glad you asked me that question because I wanted to clear that up.
“Somebody had asked me how it was to be in Atlanta and I said Atlanta’s always been known for the Braves. The Atlanta Braves, it’s a baseball town – not the Atlanta Hawks, not the Falcons but the Braves. But in LA, when I first got here (in 2006), it was all about Kobe and Shaq (and the Lakers). As the years went on and we started winning more games, the city came alive. We had the best fans. It became more of a baseball town.
“I never said LA wasn’t a baseball town. I would never say that. I love LA. I love the fans. I would never disrespect the fans that helped me get to where I was and who I am.
“So – bam. And that’s the truth.”
Kemp may have a point, as the Dodgers were coming off a disappointing season that resulted in just 71 wins before making his debut in 2006.
By the end of the decade, the Dodgers returned to prominence with multiple postseason runs. But the Lakers simultaneously embarked on another dynasty that featured back-to-back NBA Championships in 2009 and 2010.
Regardless, it’s safe to say that Los Angeles appreciates both organizations. The Lakers still draw sellout crowds despite being in the middle of a rebuild, and the Dodgers have routinely led the Majors in attendance since Guggenheim Baseball Management purchased the club in 2012.
That was most evident during the 2017 season, when the Dodgers became the first team to surpass three million fans in attendance.