The Los Angeles Lakers will start their 2013-2014 NBA season tonight at Staples Center against their cross town rival, Los Angeles Clippers. Take some time tonight to appreciate the surroundings of the arena; specifically, the walls that display the great Lakers’ history of success: the banners representing the 16 NBA championships that the Lakers have amassed and 10 jerseys honoring Lakers’ legends such as Chick Hearn, Magic Johnson and Jerry West.
Those symbols of Lakers greatness will not be on display when the Lakers meet the Clippers again on January 10th for what will be a Clippers home game. The reason being is that Doc Rivers and the Clippers have decided to conceal all remnants of the Lakers 66 years of success during the Clippers time that they call Staples Center home.
Despite the Clippers having the superior roster, a superstar in their prime in Chris Paul and being considered one of the favorites to come out of the Western Conference they still feel overshadowed by the Lakers who this season come in being picked by many to miss the playoffs, have their superstar literally on his last leg and have put together their roster with afterthoughts of the free agent market that were signed to one year deals.
The Clippers are ascending and the Lakers descending, yet, the Lakers remain firmly in place in the Clippers consciousness like a cancerous tumor.
It’s not the intent that is disrespectful, it’s the act.
We can understand how the Clippers want to make their time in the arena theirs without having the Lakers success sticking their necks out on their time. Those banners and retired jerseys loom pretty large so we can all understand their concerns. Doc Rivers explained his reasoning to reporters:
“Well, I didn’t look at it as the banner thing…I just look at it as putting our guys up.” Rivers added.
“Listen, I think this is our arena when we play,” Rivers said. “So I just thought it would be good that we show our guys. No disrespect to them. But when we play, it’s the Clippers’ arena as far as I know.”
Rivers explanation is a very reasonable one. Still, how can it feel right to cover up what represents the hard work that was put in by those 16 NBA teams that earned the right to be championships.
How is it acceptable to shun the great legends of the game, like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabber and Elgin Baylor, with a banner of the likes of JJ Reddick and DeAndre Jordan? That feels sacrilegious. It’s like stepping on the marker of the deceased or letting the American Flag hit the ground.
The Clippers aren’t just covering up the Lakers history, they’re covering up NBA history.
It’s not that the Clippers don’t have the right; it’s that they don’t have the equity.
The Lakers and Clippers have shared the Staples Center for the same amount of time; both teams are entering their 15th season in Staples when they open up the NBA season today.
In that time the Lakers have won 5 championships, 8 division titles, made 7 NBA finals appearances and made the playoffs every year except one.
In that same time, the Clippers won one division title and made it to the 2nd round of the playoffs twice.
There is obviously quite a bit of disparity between both franchises in terms of success.
The Clippers don’t even measure up to the success that was achieved by the other Staples tenants.
The WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks hang their 2 championship banners from the rafters.
The Los Angeles Kings display their recently earned 2012 NHL Stanley Cup victory and hang the retired numbers of their franchise’s greats.
Even the now defunct Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena League experienced more success in Staples Center during their time than that of the Clippers.
Yet, despite the Clippers history of futility and embarrassment, their meager contributions of success, it is them that have chosen to single out the Lakers as a distraction.
It would be a different story all together if the Clippers had actually achieved some success and that was the reason they needed room; a few NBA championships, maybe retiring a jersey or two of a great Clippers’ player that actually decided not to leave at the first opportunity. Then, okay, they earned it. That is not the case. Up until now, they’ve earned nothing.
The real landlords of Staples Center are the fans that pay for tickets and keep generating revenue to keep the doors open. Those fans have endured years of Clippers mishaps and offenses that have warranted dropping a notice to vacate on the doorstep of Donald Sterling.
The Clippers have left their stench of losing throughout Staples Center in their 15 years that’ll it will take decades to air out.
Ownership has embarrassed the city by their actions of unprofessionalism such as heckling their own players during home games and having former employees file lawsuits to get what was contractually owed to them after being fired.
they have now sullied the illustrious history and the legendary players of the single most important tenant of the building that they share, the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Staples Center without the Lakers is the Vatican without the Pope.
The Clippers attempting to replace the Lakers on the marquee is like having Chris Rock open up for Carrot Top.
The Staples Center without the Lakers is nothing more than a 950,000 square foot venue up for rent.
The Clippers attempt to wipe the walls of Staples Center clean of any fragment of Lakers success and hide their own futile past will be in vain. Instead of bringing focus on the Clippers team that is currently superior to and possess the brighter future than that of the Lakers, it brings all the attention back to the Lakers and their history. The Lakers banners and jerseys that are hidden by Clippers fabric will continue to be a discussion point at every Clippers game where it wouldn’t have been before.
Do the Clipper have the right to arrange their banners at Staples Center as they please during their time? Of course they do.
Does it reveal the Clippers feeling of inadequacy and insecurity when standing next to the Lakers? Does it come off as petty and childish? Absolutely it does.
Even in the Clippers time of superiority, they’ve failed to act superior. They couldn’t even get that right.
You can reach me at the my Twitter handle, @fullcourtfern, to discuss this article, anything Lakers or NBA related, or if you want to invite me to go grab a beer somewhere in L.A. You’re paying of course.
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