Following an absolutely unbelievable 2019 NBA offseason that saw a ton of All-Star players switch teams, one thing became clear: Los Angeles was at the center of the basketball world.
The moves made by the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers made the two Staples Center inhabitants the prohibitive favorites to win the 2020 NBA Finals.
The Lakers added Anthony Davis to pair with LeBron James while the Clippers brought in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to a team that already made the 2019 NBA playoffs. The two sides squared off on Opening Night in front of a raucous crowd that made it feel more like a playoff game than the first of the season
LeBron James had spoken previously about Los Angeles basketball fans being the beneficiary of all the offseason movement. Lakers legend and current Clippers executive Jerry West echoed those sentiments in an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic:
I think LeBron James said it best: It’s the best for basketball fans in Southern California right now. …I’m sure Christmas Day (between the Lakers and Clippers) is going to be a huge day for basketball watching in Southern California, and we should – barring any injuries – we should be at full health and hopefully they’ll be at full health. But it’s a great time to be a basketball fan in Los Angeles, because who are you going to root for?
The Opening Night of the season is proof to exactly what West and James are speaking about. The atmosphere inside Staples Center was something that hadn’t been felt in a long for a Lakers game and the fans are the ultimate beneficiary of that. With four of the league’s biggest All-Star players sharing a home, that should continue over the next couple of seasons at least.
As West noted, when the two teams square off on Christmas Day, it should be even crazier as both teams will hopefully be completely healthy.
The Lakers-Clippers rivalry has always been a weird one as the Lakers have always owned the city thanks to their championship history, but the Clippers have been better recently, but still lack the rings. This looks like the first time both teams will be championship contenders at the same time and Los Angeles basketball fans are going to enjoy it.