Tension between the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers stems from the fact that the two franchises play in the same city and arena, but the notion that there is a rivalry is fairly weak.
The Lakers and Clippers have never played against each other in the playoffs and the former has all the player legends and championship accolades that have endeared them to Los Angeles. Under new governor Steve Ballmer, the Clippers have done their best to separate themselves from the Lakers.
In order to accomplish this, Ballmer bought The Forum in Inglewood in order to build his own arena that will serve as the new home for the Clippers.
With them breaking ground on the arena on Friday, Ballmer discussed the importance of being in a separate place from the Lakers, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
“We needed to say, ‘We’re our own guys. We don’t play in the same place as the other guys. We’re going to have our own identity,'” Ballmer told ESPN in a wide-ranging interview in advance of Friday’s groundbreaking for the Clippers’ new arena in Inglewood.
Ballmer expanded on this and seemed to take a subtle shot at the Lakers and their fanbase:
“I’ve never been in a place where you had two teams in a town,” Ballmer said. “I grew up in Detroit. Everybody’s a Pistons fan. And I think for enough years the Clippers were bad enough, everybody could just ignore the Clippers.
“We’re good now, and we’re going to be good year in and year out. We’re going to build our own building, more of our own identity, more of our own personality. And I think some of the fans on the other side, if you will, it’s like, ‘What? You dare to question our supremacy?’ No, we do.
“There’s 30 teams in the league. There’s 29 others. And we got one that happens to be based in L.A. And we got our fans. We use our expression, ‘LA Our Way.’ And we’re building our own presence, identity. And if the other guys feel a little threatened — the other guys’ fans, I mean; the players are actually a little different deal — but if they feel a little threatened, that’s OK. It means we’re doing good.”
From a business perspective, it makes complete sense why Ballmer would want to move the Clippers out of Staples Center given that that arena is more synonymous with the Lakers. The expectation is the new arena will be ready for the 2024-25 season, so in the meantime, the two teams will have to continue to share the same home.
DeAndre Jordan compares being in Los Angeles with Lakers versus Clippers
One player familiar with both the Lakers and Clippers is DeAndre Jordan who just recently signed with the Purple and Gold. Jordan spent his first 10 seasons with the Clippers and he compared how it is to be back in Los Angeles but with the Lakers.
“I think I was treated pretty fairly, pretty good when I was a Clipper for 10 years,” Jordan said at his introductory press conference.
“But obviously, this is a big sports town and a lot of the fans are Laker fans. Even when I was a Clipper we understood that. I had great years when I was with the Clippers and that franchise was amazing to me and I appreciate the time I was there for sure, but like I said, I’m focused on now and this team and what are goals are ultimately and what we want to do. I’m just really excited to be here. This is a great opportunity for me and I just want to take full advantage of it.”
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