The more things change the more they stay the same. If all you know of the NBA is what you’re seeing right now and what you hear on a daily basis you might think the Oklahoma City Thunder and L.A. Clippers are the kings of the Western Conference. Of course all you’d have to do is survey the rafters in Staples Center and the AT&T Center to know you don’t get out of the West without going through the Lakers and Spurs first.
Every year the hoops world prepares to write off the Lakers and Spurs, all too eager to welcome the new guard. Yet every year, as the regular season comes to its conclusion, the top of the Western Conference looks pretty much the same.
Sure, Oklahoma City has certainly worked its way into the title conversation. But that’s all OKC’s chances are limited to at this point – talk. For all the love of the Durant-Westbrook show they’re still fighting off the Duncan-Parker duo for best in the West.
With the way the world has fallen in love with the Clippers you’d assume the Lakers are looking up at their Staples mates. Instead it’s the exact opposite. That other team in Los Angeles is still that other team in Los Angeles with the Clippers sitting fourth to the Lakers third in the Western playoff positioning.
Even the defending world champion Dallas Mavericks are looking up at both the Lakers and Spurs one year after walking through Los Angeles to their first title.
No matter how you look at it the right to represent the West in the NBA Finals still runs through L.A. and San Antonio. And if history is any indicator, should the Lakers and Spurs meet in the playoffs then the winner of that series will in all likelihood hang another banner. Turns out nothing much has changed in the last decade at least not in the Western Conference.