David Kohler likes the Lakers. A lot. Sixteen years ago, when he was 24 and running a fledgling memorabilia business, SportsCards Plus, Kohler created a Lakers shrine in his bedroom in Huntington Beach, Calif. When the room proved too small, he expanded it throughout his condominium. Over time even that proved inadequate, and two years ago, in part to accommodate his collection (as well as his wife, Robbi, and their two children), Kohler moved into a custom-built 10,000-square-foot house. It includes an 1,100-square-foot room—with 25-foot-high ceilings and a hardwood floor embossed with the Lakers' logo—where he keeps more than 2,000 pieces of Lakerphernalia. "Not to sound pompous," says Kohler, who has turned SportsCards Plus into one of the U.S.'s largest memorabilia companies, "but it's the best collection out there."
Displayed inside mahogany and glass cases are game-worn jerseys, programs, trophies, game balls (including the one Wilt Chamberlain used to break the career scoring record in 1966) and signed photos that range from the first Minneapolis Lakers team (1948-49) to today's three-peaters. There are more than 100 jerseys in all, as well as glasses worn on the court by George Mikan and a pair of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's goggles with gum stuck on them (though no soiled Derek Fisher headbands—"at least not yet," says Kohler). Kohler estimates the total value of the room at "definitely over seven figures."
Since there's no official Lakers museum, Kohler, who attends more than 25 games a year, plans to open his shrine so that schoolchildren can visit. Jerry West, Magic Johnson and five of the original Lakers (including Mikan) have visited—and, at Kohler's request, signed the door when they left. As for Robbi, Kohler says that she, too, loves the Lakers, albeit not as much as he does. "I started the collection before we met," he says, "so she knew what she was in for."