The Los Angeles Clippers have called Tinseltown home since 1984 and they have always been the little brother of The Los Angeles Lakers. Since 1984, The Lakers have claimed eight championships in The National Basketball Association while The Clippers have had the number one overall pick in The NBA Draft more than any other team. Until 1999, The Clippers played their home games at The Los Angeles Sports Arena while The Lakers called The Great Western Forum in Inglewood home. The Clippers were so bad that they only drew a decent crowd at home when they hosted The Lakers. Both teams moved into The Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles back in 1999, but The Clippers were still second fiddle to The Lakers. In 2011, NBA commissioner David Stern blocked a trade that would have sent New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul to The Lakers. Instead, Paul was traded to The Clippers.
Since that time The Clippers have become one of the most popular and exciting teams in The NBA as Paul has teamed with All-Star forward Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan to form “Lob City”. Both The Lakers and Clippers advanced to The Western Conference Semifinals last season which actually resulted in both teams playing at The Staples Center on the same weekend.
This season has been a little different as The Clippers are on the verge of qualifying for the playoffs for the second consecutive season for the first time since 1993 while The Lakers have been chasing The Houston Rockets for the 8th and final playoff spot in The Western Conference for the majority of the season.
The Clippers appear to be one of the tightest-knit teams in The NBA while The Lakers resemble a Hollywood soap opera. Laker All-Stars Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant have been at odds all season. Head coach Mike Brown was fired five games into the season and he was replaced by Mike “Pringles” D’Antoni. Things got worse recently once longtime Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss passed away. With both Los Angeles teams we are seeing how important it is to have team chemistry in order to be successful in The NBA. After The Lakers failed to acquire Paul in 2011, they set their sights on former two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash. Nash, Bryant and Howard along with forwards Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace were expected to get The Lakers back to championship form, but they have never clicked. By themselves each player is outstanding on the court, but in order for The Lakers to be successful they all must gel together. Led by Griffin, The Clippers have five players who average double-digits in points. Paul averages 9.5 assists per game as he has no problem in spreading the basketball around. The Clippers have a former NBA Finals MVP in Chauncey Billups who is the backup to Paul. Shooting guard Jamal Crawford is a former winner of The NBA’s Sixth Man of The Year Award and he is The Clippers second leading scorer at 17 points per game. The Clippers are also winning a with a trio of former Lakers as role players in Ronny Turiaf, Matt Barnes, and Lamar Odom.
Even during the championship years The Lakers were not the best of friends, but they were held together by good coaching. The Lakers won three consecutive NBA Championships from 2000-2002 as they were led by the duo of Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Bryant and O’Neal constantly clashed, but former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson was the glue that kept them together.
The Lakers have been on a tear recently as they have won five out of their last six games to reach the .500 mark for the first time since December 28. The problem is that even if The Lakers would qualify for the playoffs this season, they face the possibility of meeting either The San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs which would lead down the road to an early postseason exit. The Clippers got a taste of playoff success last season as they won their second playoff series since moving to Los Angeles. Now The Clippers must do what The Lakers have made a living off of which is winning in the postseason when you’re expected too. The Lakers on the other hand would just be happy to qualify for the playoffs at this point which is something that The Clippers franchise knows about all to well.