The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers are two teams that not only share an arena but other similarities. It’s the tale of two teams in the city of angels and dreams. Also, two teams that moved and relocated to L.A and bought by two best friends. However, that’s when the similarities stop. The Lakers have been the face of the NBA since its inception along with the Boston Celtics. Meanwhile, the Clippers have been the face of futility and dire ineptitude. While Dr. Jerry Buss and the Lakers were busy winning championships, Donald Sterling and the Clippers were a bargain basement version of an NBA team.
The rise and fall of both teams have to do with the hiring and firing of probably the greatest general manager in NBA history. Jerry West put together the great Lakers teams of the ’80s who won five championships in that decade. He also made the trade to get the future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant and made Shaquille O’Neal an offer he couldn’t refuse. Those two deals resulted in another five championships for the Lakers, while the Clippers barely made the playoffs. However, his one acquisition may have been the one to be his undoing. He added former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson who was a few years removed from winning six rings. Two things are rumored to have splintered the relationship with West and the Lakers. One was that Jerry Buss reneged on paying West $1,000,000 as a bonus to land Shaquille O’Neal. Also, West and Jackson argued nonstop and led to West leaving that organization in 2002 and joining the front office of the Memphis Grizzlies. Even though he retired from the Grizzlies organization, the team he put together made it to the Western Conference finals. West came out of retirement to become a board member for the Golden State Warriors and the team he helped put together made it to five straight NBA finals.
During West’s time with the Warriors, the Lakers fell from grace with Jerry Buss passing away and injuries to Kobe Bryant. The Clippers came close to some type of success with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, but as usual, the Clippers are who they are. This brings us to this season and the Lakers land Lebron James. The season didn’t go as planned because of injuries. The Lakers panicked without the proper leadership which they haven’t had since Jerry Buss was alive or since Jerry West was the GM.
Yes, the Lakers were fourth in the West and did beat the Warriors on Christmas when Lebron went down with an injury. After that, the season was mired in inconsistency. Jerry West made headlines when he joined the Clippers front office. He traded away Tobias Harris to create cap room for pending free agents. West and the Clippers new owner, who is not a cheap racist like Donald Sterling their former owner, had plans. Together they will bring a title to the Clippers organization within five years. Jerry West has the proven track record as general manager and as a consultant. The Lakers have no current head of basketball operations and lack a cohesive vision for their future. Could the city of Angels become a Clippers town? Probably not, but it’s fun to speculate.