Hanging From The Rafters

Glenn “Doc” Rivers is more than just a husband, father and head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. The man is a visionary, a progressive and ahead of his time.  Apparently it was him who came up with the novel idea to cover up all 16 championship banners and retired jerseys hung by the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.  Instead banners of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and others will be used as cover whenever it’s a Clippers’ home game.  This news didn’t sit well with many Lakers’ fans and guard Nick Young.  Many mocked the idea and Young called it “disrespectful“.

Staples Center opened in October 1999 and houses not only the Lakers and Clippers, but the Sparks and Kings as well. Of the four teams, only the Clippers don’t have a championship banner hanging. Or a retired jersey for that matter.  You don’t need me to tell you about the histories of the Lakers and Clippers nor do you need me to inform about the huge gap in the on court success of the two teams.

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All jokes aside, this internet meme speaks volumes about the state of the two teams.  The Clippers are coming off a season in which they claimed the first Pacific Division title in team history. While that may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, they are definitely trending upwards.  They head into the 2013-14 season with the best roster in franchise history, a marquee head coach in Rivers and are a serious contender to win the a title for the first time ever.  By resigning Paul over the summer, they’ve locked up one of the game’s top 5 players and ensured their future will be bright for the next few seasons at least. Basketball reasons have turned them from a laughingstock to a team that matters in 2 short years.  Covering up the Lakers’ championship banners is the right move for the Clippers. It symbolizes that the NBA landscape has changed in the City of Angels.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are facing the biggest crossroads they’ve seen since one Earvin Johnson was forced to retire some 22 years ago. They were shunned by a big name free agent in Dwight Howard for perhaps the first time ever.  The face of the franchise is old and trying to recover from one of the most serious injuries any athlete could suffer. Their two best active players, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, both have a lot of basketball mileage on them and it remains to be seen if either of them can play to the levels they once did. Head coach Mike D’Antoni probably isn’t “that dude” and doesn’t inspire a lot of belief amongst the Lakers faithful. (Note: Phil Jackson isn’t coming back to coach anytime soon. Get over it.)  Not to mention there’s some friction between Jim and Jeanie Buss – the two people who sit atop the organization.  There’s a plethora of questions that surround the future of the Purple and Gold and with those questions comes an air of uncertainty about whether the proper answers will be found.

In the course of a basketball game momentum matters a lot. Right now it’s the Clippers who have it all.

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