The rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers became all the more ferocious in the last decade, particularly after Steve Ballmer’s takeover of the franchise.
The Clippers’ surge happened to coincide with the worst decade in Lakers history. They have beaten the Purple and Gold in 17 of the 23 games between the two sides over the last five years.
Still, the Lakers have won their 17th championship during that stretch. Meanwhile, the Clippers have suffered a few spectacular collapses in the playoffs and are yet to reach their first NBA Finals — even after beating the Lakers to the signings of Kawhi Leonard and George Paul.
But players and executives on both sides continue to trade jabs at each other. Most recently, Reggie Jackson said the Clippers are L.A.’s heart while the Lakers are the city’s shining lights, per Tomer Azarly of Clutch Points:
“I always talk in the locker room with guys that, you know, they got a 50-year headstart, Lakers did, so I understand what it is in the city and kind of how it is overwhelmed by Lakers fans. But I feel like Clippers Nation is like the heart, it truly is L.A.’s more so. No shots at them but they are the lights, they’re bright lights, they’re are Hollywood … they’re the show. That’s what people were coming for so long. But I feel like we’re definitely the heart of the city, or that’s something that we want to embody. We definitely want to show that, you know, we’re here for the people. We play hard for the people, for our fans. You know, we got a wide array of fans. A mixed group of fans, socioeconomic-wise, ethnicity-wise, you know, we feel like we invite the city. So that’s something that we’re proud of building. We want to do something special here, definitely want to be able to hoist the title at some point. The way that they’ve embraced me through my ups and downs. For my two-and-a-half years here, it’s just, it was something I needed to give back. I mean, when people do so much for you, you want to do something back in return. I’ve been blessed my whole life and I figure if I’ve been blessed, I have to be a blessing, so just want to give back, and like I said, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to Clipper Nation. No matter how long this ride goes on. They always have a special place in my heart for everybody included.”
“Like I said it’s always no shots but I feel like the Lakers is… me not being from Los Angeles, moved around my whole life, coming here after the draft, I feel like the Lakers are what you come to LA for. The appeal. The lights. It’s all bright, it’s amazing. But once you are in L.A., you get to be in L.A., be around L.A, get to, you know, go from Palmdale to IE, all up and down, Westside, Eastside, wherever you want to, say like, throughout L.A. I feel like this organization embodies L.A. I’m proud to wear the jersey. I think that’s why everyone in the locker room is proud to don that jersey. We don’t necessarily care what a lot of people say. Even some… talking about years back, as we felt like were the true L.A. So no matter what people say or not, that’s something that we feel like we were and we definitely want to make our fan base, we want to make this entire city proud. We know we have a lot to go we have a lot to do to leave our mark, but we’re building each and every day.”
Interestingly, the Clippers beat the Lakers last week, sweeping the season series. But Jackson’s comments only came in after their win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
Asked about the guard’s take, Clippers head coach Ty Lue said the Lakers’ 17 championships “speak for themselves”:
“I don’t know about that. I won’t get into that, sorry (laughs). Reggie can say what he wants, though. But I guess… whatever. They have, what, 17 championships? That speaks for itself. But I like what we’re building here, I like the culture we’re building here, I like the direction we’re going as an organization. Like I say, Lawrence and Winger, and Trent, Mark Hughes, and Mr. Ballmer and, you know, just the direction we’re going, I love that. But you know, a team has 17 championships, so we can’t talk about that.”
Lue knows the dynamics between basketball and L.A. well. As a player, he won his two championship rings with the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal by his side between 2000-2001 — with the Purple and Gold turning the back-to-back triumphs into a three-peat the following year.
Clippers executive Jerry West describes his ‘horrible’ relationship with Lakers
Jerry West has been a major part of the war of words between the Lakers and Clippers. West has won titles with the Purple and Gold as a player and front office executive, but he has spectacularly fallen out with the franchise over the last few years.
West recently said his relationship with the Lakers is ‘horrible’ and accused the organization of revoking his lifelong season ticket in a “petty” manner.
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