As Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports reports, Chris Paul feels he and his teammates have an advantage over the Lakers in the form of a family type atmosphere:
“The [Lakers] have definitely added some pieces, but the good thing about our team is that we are good enough and tight enough that we only have to worry about us. The thing about us, we are like a family. When you are all in and competing and you genuinely care about your teammates, it means something. It does something for your team and the camaraderie.”
Paul explained that he, his teammates, and their families have been getting together over NFL games with barbeque food prepared by his personal chef.
“For the next nine or 10 months I will be with these guys more than I will be with my wife, so you have got to build that trust. There are a lot of guys who are stars in this league who don’t really talk to each other as much. With me and Blake [Griffin], we can tell each other anything and that goes for a lot of our team.”
Additionally, Clippers’ head coach Vinny Del Negro approved of the get-togethers:
“You want your guys to be close, but that is not something you can force upon them. When you see stuff or hear stuff as a coach about your guys getting together and looking out for each other away from basketball, it kind of warms your heart and it makes your job a little easier. We have got great guys and when they do things like hang out and watch football it can only be a good thing. Chris is great in that regard. He is the kind of guy who brings people together.”
Clippers’ reserve Matt Barnes–who was a Laker last year–also chimed in on the camaraderie:
“As soon as I signed I felt like there was something cool going on and that this was a close group. We will see, but it seems to me that it could be the closest [team] I have played on. The guys hang out and you immediately feel welcome. L.A. is home, but the Clippers organization already feels like home, too, and I owe the players for that.”
Does It Really Matter?
Sure, it’s always great when you have a close personal relationship with your coworkers or teammates. I remember a few years back during the 2008-2009 season when there were multiple reports of the Lakers having unofficial team dinners throughout the regular season and playoffs; the Lakers went on to win the championship that season.
However, when things fell apart during the 2010-2011 season, many critics and members of the media pointed to a rift between various stars on the team; there was never any confirmation of said rift by any players, however.
With the Lakers possessing arguably the most talented and star-studded team in the league, it definitely wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to get together off the court and get to know one another personally.
In the same breath, the Lakers famously managed to win three championships with a feuding Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in the early 2000s.
The Bottom Line
It would be great for the Lakers to have a similar sort of camaraderie off the court, but it may not happen. Similarly, it may not matter, as the team will spend plenty of hours together in practice and on planes and will inevitably develop relationships with each other.
Consequently, with a team full of veterans–many of whom are 30 years of age or older–it may be hard to coordinate events together around everyone’s busy schedules and family commitments.
However, as long as the team develops a mutual respect among themselves and works toward a common goal on the court, I believe the better team will prevail no matter the dynamic of the relationships off the court.
For the record, I believe the Lakers have the better team and predict they will come together on the court like only few teams in the past have.
Still, only time will tell.
In case you missed it – Lakers LRT chats about the Clippers and the L.A. rivalry:
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