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Is Los Angeles a Clippers town now? No.

Dec 16, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT

Blake_Griffin_grabs_his_jersey_with_Kobe_Bryant_by_his_side AP

Last year, the Clippers were the hot new girl at the party in Los Angeles. You couldn’t take your eyes off her but there was nothing serious going on, it was all flirting and fun.

Now, things are getting serious.

The Chris Paul trade has the Clippers feeling like we all thought about the Oklahoma City Thunder a couple years ago — they team is on a path to being very, very good. They have what should be the best pick-and-roll tandem in the NBA (especially if Blake Griffin did develop a more steady midrange game). We need to see them play more consistent defense, we need to see if Vinny Del Negro can get them to play that defense, we need to see DeAndre Jordan’s game mature, we need to see them bring in more depth, and we need to see if they can keep Paul beyond two years. There are still plenty of questions.

But this is a team that could be a contender soon.

Does that mean the balance of power is shifting in Los Angeles? Could the Clippers pass the Lakers and take over Los Angeles?

No.

It is possible in a few years the Clippers will be better than the Lakers on the court. Kobe Bryant has lost half a step and the Lakers are a team on the back end of their championship window. It is hard to see how they bridge to the future. Well, it’s not that hard to see how they want to — hello Dwight Howard — but whether they can get there is another thing.

But right now, the Lakers are the better team because we have seen them defend at a level good enough to win two rings and go the three straight finals. This season Mike Brown is going to have the Lakers refocus and be more physical on defense — if they become a better defensive squad they are dangerous because with Kobe, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum they are going to score still whatever the offensive system. The Lakers may have taken a step back with the poor Lamar Odom trade, but they are still contenders.

There are talking heads — specifically Stephen A. Smith at ESPN — speculating Kobe Bryant is going to ask for a trade. Like he did in 2007. Kobe is not asking out unless the Lakers trade Pau Gasol back for Kwame Brown. Kobe wants to win, badly, but where does he think he can get traded he has a better shot at it? The East? Where the Bulls and Heat lurk and the Knicks are improving? You think the Lakers would trade him in the West? You think they would trade him at all? No, Kobe is a Laker.

Los Angeles is a Lakers town and the Clippers are not taking that away. Fair weather Angelinos may flirt with the Clippers, but their heart is with the Lakers. In a transient city like Los Angeles, the Lakers are the one thing that is generational — your grandfather watched Jerry West, your father watched Magic Johnson and you grew up on Kobe. There is no NFL to pass down generation to generation, and the Dodgers have had a series of owners one worse than the next. The Lakers just keep on winning and doing it with the star power you need in L.A. They are the biggest sports brand in the city far and away.

This is a Lakers town, and unless the Clippers are good for a decade (under an owner who has sabotaged every good opportunity that franchise has had for decades) while Jim Buss runs the good ship Lakers into the ground that is not changing.

Los Angeles is a Lakers town. But that doesn’t mean flirting with he new girl isn’t going to be fun.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    “Is Los Angeles a Clippers town now? No.”

    I would expect to hear nothing less from a life-long Lackers fan. True or not, this isn’t exactly a surprise statement coming from you Kurt.

    • therealhtj - Dec 16, 2011 at 10:31 AM

      The Clippers are the Clippers, and just when you start to think they’ve turned the corner, they remind you they’re the Clippers again.

      In any organization, it all flows down from the top. The actions of that organization mirror its leader. Donald Sterling is among the vilest of human beings. That’s all you need to know when considering if LA belongs to the Clippers.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 16, 2011 at 3:57 PM

      First off, I think it has less to do with Kurt being a life-long “Lackers” fan and more to do with being a life-long Los Angeles resident. If you think that this town is somehow going to magically become a Clippers town you need to get your head examined. The Lakers are LA.

      And like the poster above me mentioned, everyone needs to calm down and remember who is running this team.

  2. cakemixa - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    Lol, print the t-shirts! We all knew the Clippers were just an all-star PG away from a championship.

  3. Chris Carter - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    As a Lakers fan, what can I say?

    I can’t wait to watch Griffin and CP3 play – a little competition never hurt anyone, and The Lakers will make big moves in the coming years for the post-Kobe era, as they always have.

  4. blueintown - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    Los Angeles is a transient, flavor-of-the-month town. It’ll be a whoever is better town by March.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 16, 2011 at 3:57 PM

      no it won’t.

  5. t16rich - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    I thought staring at a girl was considered creepy. Not flirty and fun. Good news for me.

  6. mgscott - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Don’t worry L.A., Coach Mike Brown will make it all better. HAHA

  7. sdelmonte - Dec 16, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    The Jets made the AFC title game two years running while the Giants collapsed late. And NYC is still very much a Giants town.

    The Nets were in the championships twice while the Knicks teetered on irrelevance. The Knicks still sold out while no one was watching Nets games.

    The White Sox won the World Series while the Cubs are still the Cubs. And yet tell me who is the team in Chicago (Pres. Obama notwithstanding).

    It takes a lot to get fans to shift allegiances, and one big trade is far, far from enough after decades of Laker greatness. Ask us again in five years.

  8. mistercharitystripe34 - Dec 16, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Pretty redundant article. Of course LA is still Lakers town. But you can bet that if the Lakers cannot make a trade for a young star and really start to show their age, it might shift steadily towards the “little brother” Clippers, seeing as they have a young team with lots of talent. I can definitely see this if the Clippers are automatically successful out of the gate and garner a better record than the big brother Lakers.

  9. chargerdillon - Dec 16, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    To all the Clippers fans out there, WE ARE ALL HAPPY FOR YOU! Every franchise deserves a little taste of success and excitement, it’s what keeps the fans around and keeps the game from getting stagnant.

    That being said, the Clippers will always be the little brother of the Lakers. It’s not meant to be rude, it’s not meant to be disrespectful. The Lakers have banner, after banner, after banner, after banner, after banner, after banner…..(guess what i can keep going). The Clippers have….. well…. nothing

    Not trying to be rude, but you’re talking about 1 team that is the absolute royalty of the NBA with the largest winning history in all of the NBA, compared with a team, that has never won anything.

    To give perspective, I am a diehard Chargers fan, but the Chargers have never won anything. Compared to the Raiders, the Chargers would be the little brother, why? Because the Raiders have real history, they have 3 superbowls, and the Chargers? None

    I just took a dump on my favorite football against the biggest rival to prove the point im making. What the Clippers are right now is GREAT FOR BASKETBALL, but lets dont get dellusions of grandeur

    • bowens3181 - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:17 PM

      “Not trying to be rude, but you’re talking about 1 team that is the absolute royalty of the NBA with the SECOND largest winning history in all of the NBA, compared with a team, that has never won anything.”

      It’s funny how Lakers fans always conveniently forget that the Celtics exist…

      • blueintown - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:35 PM

        Except the Lakers DO have more all-time wins..

      • sbxxix - Dec 16, 2011 at 2:15 PM

        Celtic fans… You guys are so dumb sometimes. Your team was horrible for like 2 decades and the only reason you guys have more titiles is because 50 years ago you guys won over 50% of the total titles you guys have today.

      • dluxxx - Dec 16, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        Actually, the Lakers have only won 16 titles between the NBA and BAA (which later were considered NBA titles). Their first title was an NBL title in 1948. And since they’ve been the “Los Angeles” Lakers, they’ve only won 11.

        So, there ya go. Boston has 17 titles, “Los Angeles” has 11. How you like them apples?

      • dluxxx - Dec 16, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        Also, I’m a Wolves fan (I know, I know), so yeah as a Minnesotan, I consider those early Laker’s titles to belong to the state of Minnesota. I don’t care if the franchise moved, they were won here.

        And they should have renamed the team when they left. Like there are any lakes in L.A…

      • sbxxix - Dec 16, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        Celtic fans… You guys are so dumb sometimes. Your team was horrible for like 2 decades and the only reason you guys have more titiles is because 50 years ago you guys won over 50% of the total titles you guys have today. You guys sucked in the 90s and won a title late last decade. Idiots

      • cosanostra71 - Dec 16, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        The Lakers have missed the playoffs only four or five times in their entire existence. They’ve won a championship in every decade except the 1990s (and they still bookended the decade with a Finals appearance in 90-91 and a victory in 99-00). They’re also the team name that comes to mind first for basketball fans outside of America, or casual fans here even.

        The Celtics certainly have more championships but I don’t think that it is out of line to call the Lakers the “royalty of the NBA”. But if it’s really that offensive to you, we can call the Lakers the Kings of the NBA and the Celtics the Queens ;)

      • 00maltliquor - Dec 16, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        Ummm…bowens3181. Sorry buddy, nice try. Lakers have by far more all time season wins. You seem to have conveniently forgotten that.

  10. sebstos29 - Dec 16, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    Clippers will always be in the shadow of the lakers. Maybe they will be interesting to follow this year, but they are far away from the lakers prestige.

  11. suhnum1fan - Dec 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Da Clippers still will be the Clippers. Not hoping but It wouldn’t surprise me if something bad happened to a core player. They have no size upfront after Griffin and Jordan. All Griffin does is dunk (think he’s vastly overrated)

  12. ftbfan76 - Dec 16, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    From a pure Fan’s point of view, LA shouldn’t have any professional teams just because LA defines “Fair Weather Fans”. They are going to jump off any sinking ship and onto the next one. They don’t care about the players or real fans. They’re out for themselves, and only want to look good or believe they are part of a winning organization. BTW, I live in LA so trust me, the only time you see those stupid Lakers flags hanging on their car windows are when they are in the playoffs.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 16, 2011 at 4:07 PM

      Clippers are generally in the top half for attendance year after year despite being consistently awful. With the exception of last year (which is a fluke really due to the fan boycott) the Dodgers have been in top 3 for attendance ever since coming here, despite having a recent stretch of mediocrity. The Kings are generally in the top half of attendance despite never having won a Cup and playing in a non-traditional market.

      Not to mention, the Lakers, Dodgers and Angels (not LA but still) all just signed absolutely massive television contracts, which would tend to suggest that there are a fair amount of people watching them at home too.

      Los Angeles is a transient city as Kurt mentioned, and as someone who claims to live in LA, you should know this. There aren’t many born and raised Angelenos compared to born and raised New Yorkers, or born and raised Utahans (Utahers? idk) or born and raised Green Bayers. Despite the common misconception, Los Angeles teams consistently do very well in attendance and have no problem making money and drawing fan support.

  13. ftbfan76 - Dec 16, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    And on a related story, the Clippers fanbase has tripled while their seems to be a very small fanbase of Lackers fans in LA.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 16, 2011 at 4:08 PM

      yeah, I’m sure they’ll outdraw the “Lackers” and sign a $3 billion TV contract.

    • theduuuuuuuuuude - Dec 16, 2011 at 7:56 PM

      The Lackers? They’re certainly not lacking 15 titles. BTW puns are clearly not your thing, don’t quit your day job.

  14. Cowboys Blue - Dec 16, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    The Buffalo Braves, San Diego, Los Angeles Clippers will never occupy L.A.

  15. bigmikemdz - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    grew up on Kobe? I grew up watching Magic… am I that old already?

  16. dluxxx - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Not sure how old you are, but I’m sure your grandfather probably watched the Minneapolis Lakers… Just sayin.

  17. flipper9494 - Dec 16, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    Hey, I resemble that remark…….

    “…..grandfather watching Jerry West?” I’m a father of a 14 year old and I watched Jerry West when I was a kid, AND Magic Johnson AND Kobe Bryant. Not everyone has kids when they are kids.

    Yes, LA is a Lakers town, but we are missing a football team or two, a baseball team owner, and “The Great One.” So there is plenty of room for the LA Clippers!

  18. Robert - Dec 16, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Amazing, We could see the Clippers rise above the Lakers.

  19. theduuuuuuuuuude - Dec 16, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    @ftbfan76

    You live in L.A. so that makes you an expert on L.A. sports fans huh? Go take a hike you loser. You know nothing about who the real fans are, and frankly we’re tired of this stupid, tired and cliched argument that there are no sports fans in L.A. Granted, there are many fair weather fans here, but you’re bound to have a lot of those when you’ve got a population of over 13,000,000 people, many of which are transplants from other parts of the country and the world.

    Get a clue and go to a game. And if you don’t like L.A. you’re free to leave at any time. We’d be happy to have one less clueless d-bag hanging around acting like he knows his stuff when in fact he is a first class idiot.

  20. namriverrat69 - Dec 16, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    The balance of power has shifted in the Bryant household. Kobe’s wife just filed for divorce.

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