Richard Simmons – no, not that Richard Simmons – has a man crush.

The high-powered downtown L.A. lawyer is not afraid to admit to the world that he’s a massive fan of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. He displayed the depth of that affection on national TV during Bryant’s final game by holding up a homemade sign that spelled “KOBE.”

It was worth it, Simmons said.

“It was absolutely mesmerizing,” he said. “Just a magnetic environment.”

Simmons, a season ticketholder since 1984, said Bryant is the only Laker who has ever inspired him to take that somewhat embarrassing leap.

“There’s no way I’ll debase myself for anyone other than Kobe,” said Simmons. “To stand up and hold a sign like a child in front of the entire Staples Center crowd is a lot.”

While his sign-wielding enthusiasm only extends so far, Simmons’ passion for the Lakers is legendary. The Sheppard Mullin partner said he’s only missed about five games at Staples Center since it opened. His seats are almost directly behind the team’s announcing crew, which ensures him plenty of face time during broadcasts. He’s also well-known on National Basketball Association fan message boards for his pronounced goatee.

That notoriety has helped Simmons build the largest book of business at his 750-attorney law firm and handle precedent-setting cases for companies such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. It also helps him stand out in a crowd.

“I get recognized at the hardware store, at airports, in cities all over the country,” he said.

– Henry Meier

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