Even though the Los Angeles Lakers’ season came to a premature end, many fans still have invested interest in what’s going on in the NBA postseason.
In a recent Lakers Nation poll with over 17,000 votes, 89.6% of fans revealed they would be rooting for the Phoenix Suns over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals.
It’s become commonplace for Lakers fans to root against the Clippers, especially in Los Angeles, and there is a multitude of reasons why.
The Lakers moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis in 1960 whereas the Clippers came in 1984. The Lakers and Clippers are the only NBA franchises that share the same arena so it may be somewhat of a turf war.
The Clippers stunk for a long time and were viewed as the Lakers’ little brother, but their ties to an uprise in winning during the 2010s were directly tied to the Lakers. A Lakers trade that would have paired Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul in 2011 was infamously vetoed for “basketball reasons” by then-NBA Commissioner David Stern with Paul later going across the hall to the Clippers.
However, things took a turn for the worse when reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard left the Toronto Raptors to pair with Paul George on the Clippers in 2019.
In his recent column asking why Lakers fans aren’t rooting for the Clippers this postseason, L.A. Times legend Bill Plaschke revealed just how nasty things can get between the fan bases with a quote from former Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler:
“It’s very peculiar … the fans are very vocal, downright nasty, vulgar, profane,” said former longtime Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler, who deals with haters daily on his Twitter feed. “Any time I say anything positive about the Clippers, I get an avalanche of people saying, ‘You guys haven’t done squat!’ But I never said we did.”
The reality is that each fan is different and the organization has a global fanbase, but the distaste for the Clippers from many Laker fans is both undeniable and understandable. George teased that he would come to the Lakers for a long time but ultimately went to the Clippers while Leonard did the same.
The Clippers also began covering up Lakers championship banners during games in 2013 and they even implemented new slogans during the 2019-2020 season such as “L.A. Our Way” and “Street Lights Over Spotlights.” This was the season when the Lakers and Clippers seemed destined to meet in the Conference Finals and a rivalry was brewing, especially after the media campaigns aimed to be a shot at the Lakers.
But the Lakers ultimately won the championship while the Clippers exited in the second round of the NBA bubble, and there wasn’t a whole lot of support for James, Davis, and Co. from the Clipper faithful during that run.
Lawler continued his reasoning in Plaschke’s column though, explaining why he feels Laker fans should still be rooting for the Clippers:
“To the Laker fans getting their nose out of joint, I say, ‘C’mon, how many championships do you have, we have nothing but admiration for your success, we would just like one banner to go with your 17,” Lawler said. “If they are that insecure, they need to sit down with a shrink and figure that out.”
With the Clippers being down 2-1 in their series to the Suns, Laker fans will likely take solace in them losing, even if they made it the furthest of the two L.A. teams this year.
Tyronn Lue agrees Lakers fans should root for Clippers
Another strange connection between the teams is that former Lakers player Tyronn Lue is now the head coach of the Clippers. He recently said that he believes Lakers fans should root for the Clippers since they play in the same city.
Regardless of that though, many Clippers fans have been saying that L.A. is now their town with them making the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
While this is all in good fun, the Lakers have 17 titles and Los Angeles will always be their town. No fanbases comprise of all the same individuals and it is clear there are still some Lakers fans who root for the Clippers.
Maybe these franchises will better coexist when the Clippers move out of the Staples Center to play in Inglewood, but for now, both teams may as well enjoy the rivalry as long as it sticks to basketball without getting too personal.
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