The Clippers Have Become The Best Team In Los Angeles
Jeremiah Short, The Current Voice
On December 14, 2011, Superstar point guard Chris Paul was traded from the New Orleans Hornets to Los Angeles Clippers for Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq-Aminu and an unprotected 2012 NBA Draft pick .
The Clippers acquisition of Paul came a week after NBA Commissioner David Stern, who was acting as the owner of the NBA-owned Hornets, rejected a four-team trade that would have sent him to one of league’s premiere franchises, the LA Lakers. After accepting the Clippers trade proposal, Stern felt that he made the best deal for the Hornets.
“I knew we were doing the best thing for New Orleans and that was my job,” Stern said. “You have to stick with what you think was right. I must confess it wasn’t a lot of fun, but I don’t get paid to have fun.”
Although many believed Paul desired to play for a contender, he expressed excitement over becoming a Clipper. “I’m excited to be here in LA with this unbelievable franchise with so much history behind it,” Paul said. “Every one knows Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan signed his deal and my big brother, Chauncey Billups, who I’m excited to be playing alongside of. This is going to be an unbelievable experience.”
Griffin and Jordan, upon hearing the news, instantly chest bumped and screamed the moniker that would become synonymous with the Clippers: Lob City!
Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ franchise player who could have formed one of the best backcourts in the league with Paul, welcomed the competition. “It’s good to see them (the Clippers) being that aggressive and wanting to make the next step,” he said. “They got Blake (Griffin), who I think the world of him and CP (Paul) who I like as well, so, I think it’s good for LA to have two teams that are competitive.”
Bryant, who I’m sure really wanted say “they’re still the Clippers,” didn’t realize that he would soon eat those words.
As the 2011-2012 season progressed, the inner-arena rivals were traveling parallel paths. The Lakers finished the year 41-25, while the Clippers closed with a 40-26 record. In the postseason, both teams suffered second-round exits.
Neither team was satisfied with how their years ended. Changes were sure to come.
And they did.
The 2012 offseason in LA turned to be one of the most exciting in the recent memory.
The Lakers, who knew they needed to go through a major shake-up to regain championship contender status, signed two-time MVP Steve Nash. Nash, a long-time rival of the Lakers, didn’t want to pass on a chance to compete for a title. “The opportunity to play for one of the greatest franchises in professional sports, one of the most decorated franchises, and in one of the greatest cities in the world was too good of an opportunity for me to pass up.”
After signing Nash, the Lakers weren’t done. In a blockbuster four-team trade, Dwight Howard, the league’s pre-eminent big man, was traded to the Lakers–as they sent out off-injured and mercurial center Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers.
To go along with the big-splash moves, the Lakers bolstered their bench with the acquisitions of Jodie Meeks and Antwan Jamison.
The “Lake Show” was back…. And the Clippers were the snot-nosed little brother, again.
Or so everyone thought.
The Clippers’ signings came with less hype and fanfare, but they brought on five players: Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf and Matt Barnes that instantly gave them one of the deepest and experienced benches in the league. Paul, known by most as CP3, played a major role in their recruitment, as he promised he would after the 2011-2012 season. “I’ll be the first one to tell any player that this is where you want to be,” he said.
“The team has all the small things, the great training staff, the great practice facility and a guy like Blake Griffin to play with. So, why not?”
On November 2, 2012, four days into the 2012-2013 season, Lalaland would get an early opportunity to see who was the number one show in the city–as the rivals faced off on national television. Many expected the Lakers to re-establish their dominance. But, the young upstarts known as “Lob City” had something else in store. The Chris Paul-led squad soundly beat the Lakers 105-95.
Griffin, who had seen the Lakers’ dominance first hand since he was drafted by the Clippers in 2009, knew things were changing. “We’re getting better as a team,” Griffin said. “It’s a great win for us, because they’re a great team and they’re in our division. I think the biggest difference in these games now … is when we used to run out that tunnel for the starting lineups, nobody used to boo us. They didn’t really care. And now they throw heat a little bit. So I think that says a lot about where we’re at.”
While the Lakers continued to struggle, eventually firing their head coach (Mike Brown) and replacing him with Mike “Fool’s Gold” D’Antoni, the Clippers ripped through the NBA–sporting a 17-game winning streak at one point and an undefeated record in the month of December.
As their second showdown approached, one thing was evident: The Clippers weren’t playing second fiddle anymore.
With the Clippers trouncing the Lakers 107-102, the outcome wasn’t any different the second-time around. Dwight Howard, the Lakers’ starting center, thinks there is a clear difference between the two teams. “Look at the difference between our team and theirs,” Howard said. “They just play together. They share the ball. Everybody’s excited when something happens. We have to be like that to be a great team.”
Bryant, displaying visible frustration, was harsher in his opinion of why the Lakers were struggling. “Cause we’re old as [expletive],” Bryant told ESPN.com.
Kobe you’re right. The Lakers are old…OLD NEWS.
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