Friday, 27 January 2012
THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES
Hollywood’s Biggest Blockbuster.
By Tim David Harvey
Welcome to L.A., where there appears to be changing weather on the horizon in Southern California. It seems these days the stars are shining brighter and in this city of angels everyone is looking to fly. Los Angeles may not have a NFL team…yet (thanks Magic), but they boast two NBA franchises. Now that’s no new news…but what is, is that for the first time in what seems like ever the two basketball teams seem evenly matched. Now isn’t that interesting?
In the red (and blue corner) stand the young, hungry L.A. Clippers and their poster boy/dunking highlight/new star of the; NBA Blake Griffin, and in the purple and gold corner stand league legend, and the closest thing to ‘His Airness’; Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers. For the first time the STAPLES Centre can host two teams with pride. Sure this is the house Kobe helped build, with all those rings and Lakers banners but now the Clippers can claim residence too…and not just when the floor is changed in their favour.
A city with two top teams makes for a great divide. Like Everton and Liverpool in the English, Soccer Premier League, this is a ‘derby’ that’ll attract fans, competition, followers, buzz, hype and more revenue to a post-lockout hurt NBA. Somewhere David Stern is licking his wounds, rubbing his hands together and smiling. This rivalry could result in some epic battles, for years in the making.
Blake Griffin brought more than dunks and ‘Top Ten Plays of the Week’ to the Clippers Nation. You, see he’s much more than those Shawn Kemp and Shaq’s lovechild rim rockers. His great game have kept the Clips in it and helped attract a fresh, new team to the other side of Hollywood…along with some new A-List fans.
You could even call Blake a better recruiter than LeBron as him; DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and the rest of the young bucks have been joined by some real veteran talent. The Lakers (minus the literal gutting loss of Lamar Odom) may still be intact thanks to Gasol, Fisher, some World Peace and a career and Dwight Howard bettering Andrew Bynum, but the Clippers are stacked…high. There’s ‘mo’ to this team than talent like Williams. Take former Lakers alumni Caron Butler and Brian Cook, former Laker killer Chauncey Billups and of course more importantly Chris Paul, (who almost was a Laker) to the other side of all those championship banners.
Hence, here lies the birth of this new competitiveness between the two L.A. squads and rivalry. Even if Derek Fisher insists there’s no bad blood, there’s certainly some boiling tension. It may be playful and fun (and that’s when rivalries are at their best and most enjoyable) but we all see the back and forth. Not only have both teams drawn each others blood in their two official meetings this year, the subplots are turning into individual script-selling stories of their own in a town full of tall tales.
Look at Chris Paul. Many angry Laker fans and even the player himself believe he should be standing next to Kobe in purple and gold, but instead now Kobe has been standing between him and the player that should have ended up in New Orleans in his place. You see even Pau Gasol is trash-talking. Now that’s the ‘soft-shedding’ style all of Lakers Nation wants to see. In the Lakers/Clippers matchup the other day after a play Pau tussled what little hair Paul has. What resulted was a frustrated, almost angry response from the usually cool and calm Chris which in reality was nothing, but in some other way looked like the Clippers Point making a stand against a player whose spot he could have taken. Things are clearly tense in this tight competition.
As we know, instead of being the biggest P.G. since Magic to lead the Lakers, David Stern sent Chris Paul back to New Orleans on a nixed trade that then left the Lakers out of commission as they lost Lamar Odom, the most versatile aspect of their squad, their open floor and almost much more. Also despite David’s stern, post lockout, lock down, iron-fist control, CP3 ended up in STAPLES and L.A. anyway but for what used to be the cities sister team.
Now with purple blood more than simmering, this changing of the guard has also altered the time and tide of this league and its balances of power and made for one hell of a war story for the intensity of these two titan teams clashes. The Lake Show still have an age and critic defying Kobe and all that championship experience behind them in terms of weight, but with Blake, the future and some of the leagues past best on their side the Clippers are more than tipping the scale.
All these backlashes and back-stories make for one hell of a matchup and with the season series spilt, only one more game or even an almost destined to happen amazing playoff series looks like the determining factor in finalising which team is better; the ageing contender or the young pretender. Even with all this journalistic talk and Chris Paul argument there really is a hell of a lot more to play for and this makes for a heaven sent matchup in this angelic city of star-making stories.
L.A. has always been its own city, and even in the limited city National Basketball Association this town with two teams raged against the basketball business machine. Now in this battle of Los Angeles the whole city is up for grabs as the Clippers and the Lakers look to take the house for their own. It’s all about to be left on the changing of the floor. Will it be show’s over in Clipperland? Or lights out for the Lake Show? May the best team win.