Lakers fans prefer Nuggets winning the title over other notable rivals

Celtics, Clippers and Warriors weren't even close in fan poll.

Mar 2, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) is greeted by Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić (15)
Mar 2, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) is greeted by Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić (15) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

As the regular season winds down and the Los Angeles Lakers prepare for a chaotic race to the postseason, one thing creeps in the back of the minds of Lakers fans: a few of their esteemed rivals are in prime position to win a championship this season.

Fans were polled in a Lakers community post on social media asking which current rival they would most prefer to see win its next title before LAL, and the results were staggering.

Of the over 460 fans that voted, 61 percent preferred that the Denver Nuggets be the next rival to win a title. Each of the other three teams — Celtics, Clippers and Warriors — amassed around 12 percent of votes.

Not only did the post heap up some surprising results, it sparked discussion among Lakers fans as to why in fact they are OK with the Nuggets lifting another Larry O'Brien Trophy among other teams.

Why are qualms of Nuggets winning absent among Lakers fans?

The answer to the question can be boggled down to just a few points: A) The Nuggets are a relatively new serious rival to Los Angeles and B) Denver winning means the least to the Lakers' legacy as a franchise.

You can date this Denver rivalry back to the 2020 Western Conference Finals when the Lakers defeated the Nuggets 4-1 to advance to and win the finals. Both sides probably wouldn't have considered the matchup a rivalry at the time, but another high-stakes matchup was looming.

Since that 2020 postseason matchup, the two teams have matched up 17 times (including playoffs) and the Lakers are 5-12 in that span. The Nuggets are winners of eight straight and haven't dropped a game since Dec. 16, 2022. Sure, the Nuggets have owned the matchup in the last few seasons, but fans are quick to dismiss that each team beat each other in a conference finals to go on to win a championship.

Each of their matchups since have been a big deal. The Los Angeles treats Denver games as a barometer for its own contention as a team and the Nuggets seemingly treat every game against the Lakers as a playoff game. Not to mention, both fanbases care about the matchups. That's a rivalry in my eyes.

But what would another Nuggets championship do to the Lakers' storied legacy other than affirm that Denver is currently a dynasty? Not much, which is why fans are almost unanimously fine with this rival winning the finals.

A Celtics, Clippers or Warriors finals win would eat Lakers fans at their core

The same cannot be said about the other three teams polled. More fans voted for Denver than Boston, LAC and Golden State combined.

The Celtics facet of this is obvious. They are the Lakers' perennial rival and winning a title would give them sole position at the top of the title race with 18. Boston is in the driver's seat for a title this season, sitting atop the league with a 52-14 record and showing no signs of being stopped in the eastern conference. For now, it seems the Lakers' only hope to stop the Celtics is in the hands of a Western team.

The Warriors rivalry is also relatively new. You could consider it more of a LeBron James-Stephen Curry rivalry but both teams have given us some great, high-stakes matchups in the last few seasons. If the Warriors were to win, although they probably have a lower chance of doing so than LAL, not only would Curry pass LeBron in rings won, but he would also tie Kobe Bryant's five and begin to spark inconceivable conversations between the two players.

Lastly, the Clippers rivalry boils down to pure crosstown loathing. Not have the Clippers never won a title, but they've never been to a finals and Lakers fans have been able to hang that over their head since they moved to Los Angeles. Sure, the Clippers winning one championship wouldn't mean much to the Lakers' 17, but it would still be bittersweet for the moment.

Obviously, Lakers fans don't want any other team winning a title while their team is in prime contending position, but as Los Angeles continues to underperform and disappoint, fans may have to start coming to terms with one of their rivals winning a title in the near future.

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