After years of being the NBA’s laughingstock and a half-decade of being a playoff team, the Los Angeles Clippers finally put together a team that could rival the Los Angeles Lakers for a championship.
Of course, none of this would’ve happened had they not traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons just months after signing him to a five-year deal, traded Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, and let DeAndre Jordan walk in free agency.
Griffin was the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Clippers where he put up huge numbers year in and year out for them. However, the core of Griffin, Paul, Jordan, and JJ Redick simply was never enough. Now, after a couple years of completely retooling the roster, the Clippers have Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams, and a host of great role players.
Griffin spoke about the potential Lakers-Clippers rivalry, but believes the former is a ‘force’ and the latter likely doesn’t have the power to change that in Los Angeles, according to Arash Markazi of Los Angeles Times:
“It’s exciting for L.A. basketball with what the Lakers and Clippers did but the Lakers are such a force,” Griffin said. “I said this when I played here but I don’t think you’re ever going to take that away from them but at least they’re trying to raise the competition and make a battle. It’ll be fun to watch.”
From a pure basketball standpoint, the Lakers-Clippers rivalry will easily be at its peak. Leonard and George will be going head to head with LeBron James and Anthony Davis four times a season and maybe more during the playoffs. This is the type of entertainment that fans absolutely love to see.
However, if the Clippers goal is to become Los Angeles’ team, they may as well move to Seattle. The city has firmly been a Lakers town since the Magic Johnson days and hasn’t wavered from that even slightly since.
During the 2014-15 NBA season, the Lakers went 21-61 and the Clippers went 56-26. Despite that, the Clippers averaged just 200 more people in attendance per game. And last season, when the Clippers made the playoffs and the Lakers finished eight games below .500, the latter average 1,600 more people in attendance per game.
The Clippers have just as good of a team as the Lakers, but Los Angeles will still bleed purple and gold and Griffin seems fairly confident in that as well.