Jan 26, 2012, 1:27 PM EDT
There is starting to be a real rivalry is Los Angeles.
Chris Paul was walking near Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant and all were talking a little when Gasol reached out and rubbed Paul’s head in what is the kind of gesture you can do to friends but did not sit well with Paul at all.
“He touched the top of my head, and I didn’t like that,” said Paul, who nearly landed with the Lakers last month before the NBA squelched the deal. “You know what I mean. I don’t know if Pau’s got kids, but don’t touch my head like I’m one of your kids. I don’t know what his intentions were, like, ‘I’ll treat him like little Chris.’ I don’t know if he’s got kids, but I’m not one of them.”
Gasol, who has no kids, insisted he was misunderstood.
“I’m sorry he felt that way,” the Spanish 7-footer said. “I do that all the time with my teammates. Nothing mean about it.”
Walking off the court Paul and Gasol shared a few words we can’t repeat here.
Real rivalries are born out of real tensions, like the playoffs. This one isn’t there yet. But it’s getting serious.
For years the Clippers thought there was a rivalry but the Lakers looked at the Clippers like their annoying college dorm roommate, not a rival. They shared the same space, but that was about it. The Lakers and Clippers had little in common.
Now, with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clippers are treading on equal footing on the court with the Lakers. They are tied in the standings atop the Pacific Division after the Lakers win Wednesday night. Which is why things matter — in the West right now 1.5 games separates the three seed Spurs and the 10 seed Rockets. Good teams are going to miss the playoffs out West and seeding is going to matter and go down to the wire. Win the division and you are at least a four seed.
That’s legitimate reason for some passion. Plus after three losses the Lakers were desperate for a win and played like it. Which made the game chippy and fun — there were five technical and an ejection (Josh McRoberts). This felt like a playoff game and it was entertaining. The Lakers want to win another ring this year, but as the teams are built right now the Clippers will be the better team within 12 months. If they are not already.
What we really need is a Hallway Series in these playoffs. That would be fun. That would be the start of a real rivalry.
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