A few weeks ago, I began tweeting about the dynamic in Los Angeles with the Lakers struggling and the Clippers playing the best basketball that franchise has ever seen. I opined that the dichotomy of the Lakers and Clippers has switched on the court, but it wouldn’t necessarily switch in terms of where the heart of the city lied. As long as both franchises exist, the Lakers will always have more fans, but the Clippers are definitely becoming the cooler, more fun franchise to pay attention to.
Undoubtedly, the Lakers have a history they can live off for decades to come without winning another title, and their fans — myself included — are extremely proud of the continued, sustained success. However, I received a comment from a Lakers fan that forced me to shift the discussion from the chasm between the Lakers and Clippers fans in Los Angeles to fan integrity.
“I’m bothered by [Clippers] fans thinking they don’t still have to kiss the ring, and my ass,” he said. And after I told him Clippers fans don’t owe him anything, he continued, “They absolutely do. After my team has experienced unparalleled success and yours has experienced unparalleled failure for 25 years, you don’t get to come in and talk sh*t just cuz [sic] you’ve had a better first quarter of one season.”
And there it is, the air of entitlement that emanates from the city at the same alarming rate as car pollution. In the grand scheme of things, all basketball fans are created equal. None of us have really done anything to help or hinder the relative success of the teams we give our hearts to, but Lakers fans seem to believe that they’ve been given special dispensation to require something from fans of teams with lesser success — especially Clippers fans.
For the most part, this is where the disconnect between myself and the rest of Lakers Nation lies. I patently would love little more than for the Lakers to be successful; the highs are what makes sports worth it. But during the lows, living in the past and trying to drag those past experiences of success back with you isn’t the best look.
Tonight is essentially only the sixth very interesting game between the Lakers and Clippers since the 2006 season — and even those games weren’t that interesting. The Clippers acquired Chris Paul last season, and the two teams split the season series 2-2. This year, the Clippers have a 1-0 advantage, and this sixth game over the last two years comes on the heels of the Clippers’ 19-game winning streak (they’ve lost their last two) and the Lakers struggling to play .500 basketball despite five former all-stars on the team (two of which will be all-stars this year).
So here we are, a month away from the all-star break with the Clippers looking like legitimate title contenders and the Lakers looking like they might get into the postseason if they can pick things up during the second half of the season — and the fans of both organizations don’t really know how to handle it.
Clippers fans are horrible at talking trash because they’ve never been able to, and the Lakers fans are expecting Clippers fans to shut the entire fuck up because the team they root for has not won a title — like ever.
Fandom is a funny, so funny that there is a similar situation happening on the other side of the country. Jason Clinkscales explains.