The NBA Battle for Los Angeles!
Historians may one day record this era as the battle for Los Angeles. For many years, the Lakers owned the city, lock, stock, and barrel. Through the years, their roster included Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neill, and Kobe Bryant.
They introduced “Showtime”, which was basketball played at breakneck speed, featuring no look passes from Magic and Coop-A-Loops from Michael Cooper. Many of the Hollywood Stars, especially Jack Nicholson, were regular attendees at their games. They played at the Forum in Inglewood, and their success led the city to be called “The City of Champions.”
The Clippers, at that time owned by the now disgraced Donald Sterling, were a national joke. Sterling owned the team, but his main interest was his proﬁ table real estate empire. Due to circumstances that are almost too strange to be believed, the NBA forced him to sell the team to a more respectable owner.
The Clippers were purchased by former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer. There were guesstimates that someone would pay around $500 million to become the owner of the team. However, the Clippers were something that Ballmer wanted enough to pay $2 billion for them.
Starting at practically zero, the new era began. Doc Rivers was already the Head Coach of the team, and he was retained by Ballmer. They added some players, and for the ﬁ rst time since Skippy was a pup, the Clippers had a winning season. However, even though they had improved, the team was usually eliminated in the early rounds of the playoffs.
Jerry West had been a long time star for the Lakers, and after retiring as a player, he moved to the front ofﬁce, and he began to draft the players who would make the Lakers the most exciting franchise in the NBA. They completely owned Los Angeles, and often times the NBA.
After Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss died, the team was managed by his siblings. Money can always be inherited, but the knowledge of how to manage a winning NBA franchise has to be learned. So, the Buss family tried to do it themselves. Regrettably, they were unable to do so. That led them to hire Magic Johnson to be the president of basketball operations.
The idea was that Magic could wave his wand, and then the Lakers would return to their winning ways.
However, it is not that simple, this team will experience a lot of heart aches, before they win another championship.
The Clippers, on the other hand, have done what the Lakers should have done. They have hired Jerry West to help them ﬁnd the championship talent that they are seeking. West signed the players, who one Championship after Championship. Therefore, it seems to me, the most logical step for the Lakers would have been to rehire him, to work with Magic, but that did not happen.
Magic was instrumental in getting LeBron James to sign with the Lakers. That was a monumental accomplishment! However, as great as he is, King James still needs some help from his teammates, and so far that has not been available. As this article is being written, the Clippers have a record of 31-27, and the Lakers stand at 28-28. So at this point, both teams are in danger of not making the playoffs.
To local sports fans, this would be a disaster of monumental proportions. If both teams cannot make the Playoffs, we are desperately hoping that one of them will. Remember that the Dodgers did play in the World Series, and the Rams played in the Super Bowl. Neither team won, but at least we had a shot. Please don’t take that away from us!