MetLife Stadium is home to both the New York Giants and the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The two franchises jointly built the sports complex contributing equally through private funding. It wasn’t long ago when the Jets were tenants in Giants Stadium, a stadium owned by the New York Giants which still sits adjacent to Met Life. With the Giants’ name permanently on the marque, the Jets spent 24 years playing home games with a spare key in another, more successful franchise digs. Yet, there’s a subtle, if any, rivalry between the two teams which made the Jets living situation less humbling.
The same can not be said for the NBA‘s version of the “Real World”. The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers have called the Staples Center home since 1999. Unlike MetLife stadium, the Staples Center is not a joint venture by the two franchises. In fact, the venue is owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group which also owes a portion of the Lakers.
The Clippers and Lakers not only play in the same conference, they’re in the same division. Over the years the teams have become bitter rivals, as the Clippers fight for a share of the city’s fan base and respect. The Lakers moved to Los Angeles long before their cross-hall foes and have a 16 championship lead over the long dormant franchise. The Clippers’ failure to be relevant and the countless banners and retired Laker jerseys looking down on them during competition defined the culture of the Clippers as an afterthought throughout the league, the city, and the arena.
First year Clipper head coach, Doc Rivers, ordered that Laker banners be covered during Clipper home games. This unprecedented move is one of many in Rivers’ attempt to change the culture of the locker room. Clipper players will now play home games with giant images of the present team, not the accomplishments of their rivals.
Many not wearing red and blue find the move disrespectful to the accomplishments of the more accomplished Lakers. But if a Clipper home game is truly a home game, then there’s no place for visible memorabilia of any team other than the one defending their home court.
Rivers stated, “the culture is changing and we want to be a winner”. There no better way to institute such change than to ensure that the players themselves no longer look to the rafters and see themselves as the other team in Los Angeles.
ChristopherBrown is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @whatrockschris. Like him on Facebook at Christopher-Rant Sports.