Could it really be that one of the most successful teams ever in the history of the NBA have slipped back to second best in their own city?
The Los Angeles Lakers have started the 2012 NBA season off poorly resulting in the exit of coach Mike Brown.
With the acquisition of the likes of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash over the summer the Lakers were meant to be real title contenders once again. A slow to start to the season has suggested that this is still a long way off and are also some distance off of top spot in the Pacific Division. That place is held by the team who they share the same building with, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Like the Lakers, the Clippers re-enforced their roster including the signing of former Laker Lamar Odom. Experience was added all over the court creating a very deep bench, Chauncy Billups, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf and Matt Barnes have all impressed so far.
Chris Paul is the number one point guard but when it is time for a rest, Vinny Del Negro has the likes of Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe, who is averaging 10.6 points per game in just 18.1 minutes per game illustrates the quality in depth at their disposal.
This compared to the Lakers makes scary viewing for their fans. Steve Nash has been injured and has been covered by Steve Blake who so far has yet to impress with the same figures that Clippers bench players have been making.
It is the Clippers who sit atop of the Pacific Division three games ahead of the Lakers and from results this early on in the season suggest they are not going to let it slip from them easily, there are even some murmurs from some camps that they are a potential championship contender.
Last night’s game against defending NBA champions the Miami Heat furthered this claim as they came out on top 107-100 taken them to 6-2 for the season.
Another key statement of intent over the summer was persuading Blake Griffin to agree to a new five-year deal, where the Lakers know they only have two more years from Kobe Bryant and potentially just the one from Dwight Howard unless the arrival of Mike D’Antoni secures a remarkable come- back for the Lakeshow.
The two sides have already met this season, which the Clippers came out on top in what was a very lackluster performance from the Lakers.
Over the years it would have been hard to call it a rivalry between the two franchises but, over the last couple of season we have seen a resurgent Clippers making the rivalry one of the most exciting in the league.
Throughout the course of the season, the number one side will be determined by the outcome of the clashes at the Staples Center, with the Clippers 1-0 what does that say for the one time dominant Los Angeles Lakers.