Sibling Rivalry: What the Clippers’ Success Means for the Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers share a city, share a population and share a building. They aren’t cross-town rivals: they’re brothers. The Lakers are the older, more established big brother to the up and coming Clippers. They hold the records, they hold the championships, and they hold the majority fan base.
But what happens when little brother grows up?
Since the team’s move to LA in 1984 the Clippers haven’t finished above 5th in the Western Conference. They have made the playoffs exactly five times, with only two trips that resulted in advancing past the first round. The Lakers have never had to deal with a good Clippers team. The Clippers have never been seen as a threat. But behind Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the much-improved DeAndre Jordan who has finally figured out how to hit free throws now and again, the threat level is at an all-time high. Though the same can’t be said for the number of three’s BG32 is going to attempt in the future.
This sibling rivalry is about to get real. Forget the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Nothing shines brighter than the lights in LA. The stage is set for these two teams to really go head to head this season.
The Clippers couldn’t have picked a better time to start getting good. With the Lakers in a transitional period the Clippers have a little more room to breathe in the Pacific Division. Of course, they have taken that room and ran with it. Even with losing their past two, they remain neck and neck with the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder for the top spot in the Western Conference. Plus the whole 17-game win streak thing. On the other side of the arena you have Kobe calling the Lakers “old as $@!%” as well as using analogies such as ‘stuck in the mud’ and ‘sluggish’ when referring to the Lakers’ level of play. One might just think there is a new big dog in LA. But one would be wrong.
Let’s face it. The Clippers fan base started off as people who didn’t want to like the Lakers. It has now grown because of Blake Griffin’s dunks, Chris Paul and the deepest bench in the league. But only one team has Kobe Bryant.
No matter their current record, the Lakers are regarded as a dynasty. They have some of the most high profile championship titles as well as the most high profile players- past and present. They are a global brand. You could even go so far as to say they are the face of the NBA in many other countries. Kids in China sport #24 on their jerseys. Kobe does Turkish Airlines commercials with Lionel Messi that make Blake Griffin’s Kia flashback commercials look like late night infomercials. Though I have to admit I chuckle every time I see future Blake tell little Blake to stop wearing jean shorts. The point is, the Lakers are more marketable, more well-known and will never take a back seat to anyone, especially with the worldwide appeal of the Black Mamba.
Even in this ‘transitional’ period the Lakers have captured more of the limelight than most teams that are doing extraordinarily well *cough*Spurs*cough*. The Lakers struggles are constantly front page news on the ESPN home page. The vast expanse of the Lakers fan base can be found sounding off all over cyber space in support of their purple and gold to anyone who will listen. Whispers of patience and determination are still there. No one has given up on the Lakers, and the Lakers haven’t given up on themselves. Yes, they are still flirting with the .500 mark but what better way to get back to half and half than against little brother himself? The Lakers tip off against the Clippers in ‘their’ building Friday at 7:30 PM P.T.