Are the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers a rivalry? The two teams have a completely different history, but share the same city and play in the same arena. Last season, the Clippers were actually a competitive team, raising the question about a possible basketball rivalry in the city of Los Angeles.
Some people will say that there is no rivalry between the two teams because of the major separation in history over the years. The Lakers came from Minneapolis to Los Angeles before the 1960-1961 season, while the Clippers came from San Diego to Los Angeles before the 1984-1985 season. It’s the Lakers that have won 16 NBA championships to the Clippers zero NBA championship appearances. The Lakers have missed the playoffs just five times in 65 seasons, while the Clippers have had just eight playoff appearances in 43 seasons. It’s also the Lakers that have had 20 hall of famers play for them to the Clippers six.
So it’s clear that the Lakers have an overwhelming amount of more history and success than the Clippers. The Clippers will never be able to take over the city’s love for the Lakers, ever. But, should that really affect a possible rivalry between the two teams right now? The answer is of course not.
Before last season all-star point guard Chris Paul was traded to the Lakers from the New Orleans Hornets, but that trade was quickly vetoed for “basketball reasons” by NBA Commissioner David Stern. Paul was instead traded to the Clippers, which infuriated Lakers fans and had Clippers fans popping up from out of nowhere. For the first time ever I was starting to hear Lakers fans say things like “I hate the Clippers,” “We got robbed,” We’re still the best team in LA,” and it was awesome. The fans were making this a rivalry before the two teams had even played a game yet.
After last season’s games between the two teams it’s hard not to call this matchup a rivalry. In one of the three regular season meetings between them last season seven technical fouls were called, that’s not normal. Even though players from both teams denied the start of any kind of rivalry it was clear that they didn’t like each other. The Lakers ended up taking two out of the three games and wining the season series. It’s been 19 years since the Clippers last won a season series against the Lakers, winning their last one during the 1992-1993 season.
This season the Clippers and Lakers should both be contenders in the western conference, after making some major roster additions in the off-season. For whatever reason these two teams really seem to genuinely dislike each other, which has made this game a must see matchup whenever they play each other. Thanks to Commissioner Stern the Clippers will be a contender for how ever long Paul decides to stay with them for. On the other hand, the Lakers will be a contender for how ever long they want to be because they’re the Lakers.
Tonight the two teams will go head-to-head for the first time during the 2012-2013 season.
Most sports rivalries are backed up by a storied history, while this one is strictly backed up by “basketball reasons.” So you can call it what you want, but I’d call it a rivalry.
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