The Lakers were engaged in an early-season showdown at Staples Center. UCLA had played in a bowl game earlier in the day in Las Vegas. USC is heading to Miami today for a Jan. 2 Orange Bowl matchup with Iowa in what many consider the true Rose Bowl.
But when the Oklahoma Sooner football team and its supporters, five buses strong, arrived at their Century City hotel Wednesday night, they had no reason to think they weren't at the center of L.A.'s sports universe and that the Rose Bowl wasn't still the granddaddy of all the bowls.
The Rose Bowl committee pulled off that illusion by showing up in force, even though it was Christmas night, to greet the Sooners, who will face Washington State on New Year's Day.
Also on hand to welcome the Sooners were Rose Bowl queen Alexandra Wucetich and the six members of her court.
The players were "rosed" -- rose stickers placed on shirts and jackets -- and all the proper speeches were made. Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops responded with the expected reverential reaction.
"Our school has seven national championships and 38 conference championships," he said. "What we don't have is a Rose Bowl championship and that's what we're here to get."
The Rose Bowl committee members nodded with approval.
Ahead of them, the Sooners have the Beef Bowl gorge-athon at Lawry's, a trip to Disneyland and sights to see.
"We'd like to go to Venice Beach," said tight end Trent Smith. "I've never been to California and a lot of the other guys haven't either. We haven't been around a lot of water."
However, many of the players have been involved in important games.
This is Oklahoma's fourth consecutive bowl appearance, including a 13-2 triumph over Florida State in the 2001 Orange Bowl that gave the Sooners a national championship.
For those Sooners still around, that was the granddaddy of them all.