The Battle Of Los Angeles

Back in 1999, one of my favourite bands, Rage Against The Machine release an album entitled “The Battle Of Los Angeles.” The album, which debuted at No. 1 on the billboard charts that summer, was a statement on how different the City Of Angels was perceived by outsiders compared to the citizens living in Los Angeles. As guitarist Tom Morello noted.

“Most people see Los Angeles as Hollywood or Oscar night. They see the glitz and glamour of the city. Meanwhile there is a different story going on in Los Angeles. If you look deeper there are stories of despair, heartbreak and shattered dreams. But also stories of hope. That’s the Los Angeles we want people to see.”

To most NBA fans, the two Los Angeles teams represent both parts of the city very well. The Lakers are the glitz and glamour of LA. Back in the 1980s it was Showtime, led by Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy. In the 2000s, it was the Lake Show led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers were incredibly successful winning 17 NBA titles, the most recent in 2010.

On the other side there is the Clippers. While sharing the same home arena, (The Staples Centre) with the Lakers since 1999, (ironic isn’t it) the Clippers have been for the most part the laughingstock of the NBA. With the exception of 2006, in which the Clippers made it to the second round of the playoffs, the Clippers have always been the poorer cousin to the Lakers. The Clippers represented despair, heartbreak and shattered dreams. The franchise has been noted more for first round flops than superstars. “Luminaries” such as Danny Ferry, Bo Kimble, Terry Dehere, Michael Olowokandi, and Darius Miles dotted the Clippers history. To top it off owner Donald Sterling was named the worst owner in professional sports in Sports Illustrated a few years back.

However, there is now hope for Clipper fans. Young talent has started to emerge. Power forward Blake Griffin is one of the brightest stars in the NBA. Point guard Chris Paul is considered in the top 3 at his position. Paul and Griffin have formed a dynamic one-two punch which is akin to John Stockton and Karl Malone in Utah back in the 1990s. Coach Vinny Del Negro is a young but very bright coach who will work his players hard, but is also a good teacher.

Meanwhile the Lakers are slipping. Yes they still have Kobe but the supporting cast is either aging or lacking. Pau Gasol has looked like he’s lost a step, Derek Fisher can’t play forever, and the artist formerly known as Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace) is a loose cannon who could spontaneously  combust at any moment.

These two teams have met twice the season with each team winning once. After the second meeting in which the Lakers won, Bryant told Yahoo Sports:

“We’ve got five championships… Rivals come from the playoffs.”

While Kobe may be right, there is a distinct possibility that these two LA teams could very well meet in the playoffs this year. And if they did meet, it could very well be the start of the next great rivalry. And the NBA would be overjoyed with that!

You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973 and also follow the Sports Blog Movement on Twitter @SprtsBlgMovemnt



Filed under Sports

8 responses to “The Battle Of Los Angeles

  1. Not The Donny

    Nice take. I have a complimentary story on the same topic.

  2. I was a kid living in Southern California when the Clips moved to L.A, and they’ve been the little brother for 30 years. But I have my doubts how long this lasts as long as Sterling still owns the team.

  3. I’ve always said if I could see one band at any time in their history, it would have been Rage when they were first coming up through the ranks and playing local L.A. clubs. Can you imagine?

    The question these here Clippers have to ask themselves is whether they can come anywhere close to establishing the sort of legacy that Kobe already has in that area. That won’t be easy.

    In this win and win now league, if the combination of Paul, Griffin and whoever else they throw in there, can’t get it done, expect them to tear it down in three to four years and start from scratch.

    But hey, at least Billy Crystal now has something to cheer about.

  4. Until the Clippers win a title, the Lakers still rule LA.

  5. Great article, but I have to agree with J-Dub. Donald Sterling is the great equalizer in this whole equation. If he puts the money up and gets out of the picture, they could sustain something. In my opinion, I think he needs to sell the team and let some new blood in there. Besides, at this point, the fandom and tickets sales for the Clippers are at an all-time high. Sell high Donald.

  6. Bobby Charts

    I just personally think the Clippers are the attractive new co-worker (in the bosses eye) that shows up 30 minuets early, stays 15 minuets late, off the clock and is trying to score points but really is ok at his job. Mean while everyone else that this green horn works with have been on the job for 15+ years. Blake, CP3 need to worry about winning in the playoffs and quit being so cocky and confident before they have even done anything!

    Nice piece J.

  7. I’ve been a Lakers fan my whole life, so it was crazy to be courtside last week and find myself rooting for the Clippers (against Memphis, not Lakers). In LA it’s an odd dynamic because we love our teams so much.
    Some say there are no Clippers fans, only Lakers haters, but the city is really coming around and for such a non-flashy game, the stadium was sold out.
    Also, these guys have to see each other around town a lot so that might be why they are downplaying the rivalry. But it IS a rivalry now, and it’s really gotten exciting.

    GREAT piece!

  8. If you like Rage Against the Machine, I think you might like my blog, Rhymes and Reasons. It is a series of interviews with hip-hop heads who discuss their lives in the context of a few songs that matter to them. The interviews tend to focus on questions of justice like racism, sexism, sexual violence, white privilege, etc. I hope you enjoy it.

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