The Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers have a rivalry born out of proximity, but it is clear to all in the basketball world that the city will always bleed Purple and Gold.
Since Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers, however, he has made it a point to try and separate the team from their Staples Center co-tenants and forge a new identity. To that end, Ballmer ended up buying The Forum in Inglewood for $400 million in cash in order to build a new arena.
Construction on the new arena, which will be named the Intuit Dome, recently broke ground and former Lakers legend and current Clippers consultant Jerry West discussed how the building will help them move out of the Lakers shadow, via Andre Greif of L.A. Times:
“If you share a building with not one but two teams, it’s a very difficult task, it really is,” said Jerry West, a consultant to Ballmer and Clippers executives since 2017. “For the players when they go in [to Intuit Dome] they know this building is dedicated to them. Nothing else is going to matter. They can have what they want around, they can have their own identity without having to you know, look at all the Laker greats that have played up there [in the rafters] and the enormous success the franchise has had, and also the Kings themselves.
“It’s like separating — I guess a family gets too large, you’re separating your families and they have their own home now and this is what he’s doing.”
However, the Laker legend also acknowledged that the storied franchise will likely remain as the favorites in Los Angeles:
“If you’ve been around this city the Lakers are probably the most favorite sports team of all and I don’t think that’s what [is in] Steve’s timeline,” West said. “He wants his own identity.”
West knows a thing or two about what it means to be a Laker as “The Icon” led the organization to its first title in Los Angeles. Although Ballmer is hoping Lakers fans feel threatened by the Intuit Dome, he will never be able to take away their standing in the L.A. market.
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