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Clippers got better this summer, yet in L.A. it’s same old story (all Lakers)

Aug 21, 2012, 8:59 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

The Clippers are a legitimately good team.

They went 40-26 last season, one game back of the Pacific Division winning Los Angeles Lakers. Then this summer they went out and added Lamar Odom, Grant Hill and Jamal Crawford. They have the best point guard in the game in Chris Paul — a guy you can argue even today is the single best player in Los Angeles. They have a dynamic and athletic front line with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. They are fun to watch and may well be the third best team in the Western Conference right now.

And in Los Angeles, it’s like they barely exist.

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

Ever since the Lakers moves to trade for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the Clippers have felt invisible in Los Angeles (where I am from). You don’t read much about them in the sports pages, you don’t hear about them on sports talk radio, they don’t get much play anywhere. The Clippers may have turned a corner, they are a quality playoff team, but the dynamic in Los Angeles now with the Clippers has not changed. The only time they get mentioned is when we are reminded the Lakers are still better.

Los Angeles is a Lakers town. The NFL moved on from Los Angeles a generation ago (and kind of lost said generation to the X-Games sports). The Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t seem to get on track, going from an owner where you didn’t think things could get worse — FOX — to an owner who actually was worse. (The new ownership group is working to change all of that.)

Through it all, the Lakers kept on winning. They did it with Shaq and Kobe Bryant. Shaq went away and they eventually did it with Pau Gasol. You can trace a lineage of winning back to George Mikan. The Lakers maintained a standard of excellence that no NBA team has matched over the past couple decades.

In a Los Angeles that can be transient (a lot of people move here due to the entertainment industry… and the weather), the Lakers are the one generational team right now. The Dodgers are trying to recover that, but it is the Lakers where your grandfather watched Jerry West, your father watched Magic Johnson and you watched Kobe. It is the one constant, the one sporting bond that can be passed down the way Green Bay Packers or Chicago Bears fans pass down season tickets generation to generation

And when the Lakers are the story they can drown out everything in L.A.. USC football will get its spotlight this year. But that will not ignite the passions of most Angelenos like the Lakers (half of L.A is still UCLA fans).

The Clippers, for all the changes and for all the excitement around the franchise right now, for all the hope they can generate going into the playoffs next year, they are still the other team. The little brother. Lakers fans don’t look on the Clippers as rivals so much as an annoying roommate.

That roommate is going to be a very good team this year. There are questions — Can DeAndre Jordan step up? Can Vinny Del Negro really lead them far? — but the Clips should be talking about 55 wins or more and getting out of the first round of the playoffs again. They should be talking about taking the next step or steps forward.

They are. It’s just hard to hear them in Los Angeles over the Lakers.

  1. magicbucs - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Figures you’re from LA. Now I get the continuous magic bashing. I don’t understand the heat love you give tho.. Anyway the clippers should move out of LA. Give another city a chance at a franchise. I bet the clippers will get more attention that way.

    • philliphernandez - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:03 AM

      I agree that the Clippers do need their own market but that’s Sterling’s doing. The Clippers had an opportunity to move to Anaheim when the Pond opened up in 93′. Sterling was even offered free rent for a decade. He did not take the deal because Sterling didn’t think his friends would go to the games and that is just an hour south on the 5 Freeway.

      I can’t see him moving to another market, unless he sells. If you are ever in LA pick up a copy of the Times and you can see how much he advertises his other businesses under the mantle of “Clippers Owner”. He digs it too much to change anything but you are right the team and fans deserve better.

  2. money2long - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    that’s a dope picture.

  3. manchestermiracle - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    It is the way it is because the Lakers have 15 championships and the Clippers have zero. When there are as many choices as there are in a city the size of L.A. competing for people’s entertainment dollars, you had better produce a winning product if you want to be a part of the conversation. The Clippers haven’t done squat in comparison to other L.A. teams (even the Raiders won a title there), and they’ll continue to be pretty much ignored until they break through.

    When the Clips got Paul, courtesy of the Commish torpedoing the Laker trade, all I heard around L.A. was how the Clippers were finally going to challenge the Lakers. And they did. For awhile. But L.A.’s “other” team has a ways to go before they deserve being mentioned in the same breath as the legendary Lakers and their HOF rosters.

    P.S. The “half” of L.A. that are UCLA fans are rooting for the basketball team, ’cause the football team has sucked for some time now.

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 21, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      *cough* 16 championships *cough*

  4. loungefly74 - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    hmmm…another city where the clippers could go (as mentioned in previous comments)?…san diego…seattle? well, thats for another article…

    again, as a previous comment mentioned…its all about the titles. i mean…in some bizarro universe, the Buffalo Bills are 4 time Super Bowl champs…but in this one…a side note.

    i think it is to the Laker’s advantage with there being no NFL team.

    so yeah, good article summoning up why the Clippers, though on the rise, have a ways to go before reaching the top of LaLaLand…

  5. zacksdad - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    I like how the article is point out how the Clippers are not talked about as much as the Lakers. Then the article and the comments talk more about the Lakers than the Clippers.

  6. jerdogthompson - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    What’s amazing is all the theorized greatness for the newly formed team Viagra donning purple and gold. How about we see how father time will be towards Nash,Kobe,etc….before we hand over the title. Last I checked D12 is still rehabbing. And if any Faker fan is expecting more than 30 minutes a night from Nash your sadly mistaken. Any coach will realize they just have to keep it close and when their bench comes on its lights out for the Faker bench. Keep the rhetoric coming at a break neck pace, just hope half of these beat writers and half of the bad wagoners have the stones to appear when things don’t quite work out the way they had planned. We shall see……

  7. abasketballthing - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    The Clippers have improved their offense, but their defense is basically the same. Grant Hill isn’t going to make a big difference at this point. They got absolutely destroyed by the Spurs last season, and even if they had been healthy, they would’ve lost in 5 games at most. There’s no way they’re better than the Spurs now. The might be 4th best team in the west, but the Spurs are much closer to LAL and OKC than the Clippers are.

  8. mat9844 - Aug 21, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    The Lakers may treat the Clippers like little brothers, but they would do well to remember that little brothers have a habit of growing up and surpassing their big brothers. On paper, it all looks good for the Lakers, but games aren’t played on paper. Let the games begin, then we’ll see just how good the Clips are this year and prove a lot of people wrong!

  9. lew24 - Aug 21, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Clippers are no roommate. They are the third and final tenant. The Kings are the roommate. The Kings and Lakers built the Staples Center and the Clippers were a last minute addition. They don’t get scheduling priority over the Lakers and Clippers. That’s why the Clippers play Sunday games at noon…right before the varsity plays (Lakers) at 6pm!

    The Clippers are that annoying friend that asks to crash on the couch for a week and then ends up staying for a couple of years!

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 21, 2012 at 4:28 PM


  10. jedifriedchicken - Aug 21, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    I’ve been a big Laker all my life. That being said, I’ve rooted for the Clippers to get good in the past. Of course I’ve immediately regretted this as soon as they show some promise. This is because Clippers fans are total. Blowhards when they get any little win. They’ve been to the second round twice since the mid-seventies, both times when the Lakers were at a “low,” and both times they went nutts over how great they were, how they were the new big brother in LA, etc… The last time they were one and done. This past year seems to have a better chance of continuing on, although CP3 could always opt out at the end of his contract still. It would be awesome to see two great LA teams battling it out, and becoming a rivalry, but the Clippers need to win something before they got a right to talk the talk. In 40 years, the Clippers haven’t won anything. No league titles, no conference titles, no division titles. Just three trips to be second round. I’m just saying’…

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 21, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      I’ve got the same story as you, I’m a massive Laker (and to a much lesser extent, a Rocket fan) fan, but every year I would root hard for the lil bro Clippers do good. I loved all their rosters from the Loy Vaught/ Danny Manning/ Ron Harper/ Mark Jackson etc. years to the L.O./ Darius Miles/ Q/ Maggette etc. teams to now and Ive always thought they had enough talent to make the playoffs every year but just couldn’t put it together. Now that they are finally legit Clipper fans are outrageous with it (half my friends are real, from-the-beginning Clipper fans and they can be quite annoying!) but I wouldn’t say they are complete blowhards. Nowadays I can’t root for the Clips though, they’re coming too close for my taste in the standings!

  11. jerdogthompson - Aug 21, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    What I find particularly piquant is the fact that team Viagra donning Purple and gold have yet to even play a game together. You can fantasize all you want about the Nash-D12 pick and roll but facts are facts. Not to mention, any Faker fan that thinks Nash is good for anything more than 30 minutes a night is sadly mistaken. Who’s the backup, Blake? LMAO.

    Any NBA coach will soon figure out that all they need to do is keep the game close until that dismal Faker bench takes the floor and the ensuing slaughter likely to follow. In the mean time, keep fantasizing, although last I checked Howard is still rehabbing. Anyone seen him play post surgery? Didn’t think so………..Until then remember this.

    Confucius say man he remain silent thought of as idiot.

    Man who open mouth remove all doubt.

    Let it sink in.

  12. chargersallday17 - Aug 21, 2012 at 4:32 PM


  13. donrwells3 - Aug 21, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    Lakers haven’t been tested yet. The season hasn’t started. They are a good team. They could be a great team. They could win the championship in a 4-1 almost-sweep. None of that has happened yet.

    The Clippers are a good team. They could be a great team. They have a solid-roster packed with great players. They are better than last year. They could slip back into the shadow of the Lakers. They could sweep them in the regular season. They could run straight to the Championship. No one knows; None of that has happened yet.

  14. justprofit84 - Aug 22, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    The Lakers need to watch out for The Clips they can still win the division. The Lakers are gonna have an ego problem . No one can admit Pao is burnt out. MWP game is RIP. Kobe is always good but Dwight (the Lakers next Shaq) has to pick up slack and if he doesn’t LA will turn on him.

  15. lawest111 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    The Clippers deserve to be in the shadows, they haven’t proven that they can put together a good product year after year. In a sense the fans made this possible, the Clippers have always been very profitable because they ride on the basketball passion that the Lakers have created. Because of that, Sterling who is notoriously cheap didn’t invest in the team. but fans still showed-up because they wanted to see a game and the Lakers tickets are too expensive. Sterling will never move to his own market because he makes too much money in LA, even with an inferior product for most years. Now, is the Clippers’ opportunity to make the right decisions and field a contender, the jury is still out as to whether management is capable of doing it.

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