The Los Angeles Lakers have 16 championship banners hanging in the rafters of the Staples Center — through for what it’s worth, only 11 were won while the team was in Los Angeles — and are the city’s undisputed No. 1 team. Jack Nicholson court side, Showtime with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kobe Bryant‘s championship runs are as intertwined with the city as show business. That could be changing. The Los Angeles Kings now sit one win away from the Stanley Cup Final and five wins away from their second Cup in three years as the Lakers have been, to put it kindly, a train wreck in that time span. In almost complete role reversal the Kings and Los Angeles Clippers have become the toast of the town and the Lakers are the laughingstock of the sports world. If the Kings want to capitalize on the momentum they’ve built it’s now or never.
Win, lose or draw the Kings have an amazing nucleus going forward as Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar are all on the right side of 30 and signed through at least 2016. The Lakers, on the other hand, have an aging (and injured) Kobe, an archaic (and also injured) Steve Nash, an undesirable draft pick and something called “cap room” that according Lakers diehards will transform into LeBron James and/or Carmelo Anthony. The Kings clearly have the upper hand as their contender status will not be going away anytime soon, and the Lakers’ mediocrity likewise has no light at the end of the tunnel. It will definitely take some time to “dethrone” the Lakers, but given the circumstances of the respective franchises time is squarely on the Kings’ side.
With Los Angeles are natives such as Matt Nieto, Emerson Etem, Beau Bennett and Kevan Miller in the NHL and Nic Kerdiles, Rocco Grimaldi and Thatcher Demko among others coming soon, it is safe to call Southern California a hockey market. With the game growing like never before and celebrity sightings at Kings game becoming more and more common, the timing might just be perfect. The Lakers are their own worst enemy as the Buss family epitomizes ineptitude and has the team in a rut they won’t escape from soon. Now is the time for the Kings to make Los Angeles their town.