A few weeks back, ESPN Radio LA’s John Ireland invited fans to call and weigh in on the differences between Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers fans. As the flagship station of the “other team,” obviously the conservation was heavily peppered with Laker fan calls and, predictably, the Clipper fans were dismissed with the usual arrogance of a 16-time championship team. However, as the Clippers have opened their checkbook and made a serious attempt at producing a contender, Laker fans have suddenly become even more vocal in their repudiation of their team’s Staples c0-tenant. So what is their beef, exactly? With all the drama surrounding the purple and gold, are they threatened by the rise of Lob City? Obviously, we have our own opinions here at FullyClips…
Ian Denchasy – Writer/Editor
In 1984, at age 19, I packed up my belongings, tossed them into my ’73 Mercury Capri, and made the 400 mile trip down Highway 5 from San Francisco to start a new chapter in Los Angeles. I had been working as a doorman at the Hotel St. Francis that summer and, from my chilly post at the Powell St. entrance, I glimpsed a feature on Venice Beach during coverage of the Olympics that year. In that instant, I felt drawn southward and immediately knew my time in The City had come to a close. Old habits die hard, however, and after arriving I found myself unable to switch my allegiance from the 49ers, Warriors, and Giants to the Rams, Lakers, and Dodgers, respectively. Of the three, the Lakers, by far, were the most loathsome. Maybe it was their gaudy purple and gold uniforms, their flashy “Showtime” style, or simply my distaste for their Playboy model surrounded owner that turned me off (and the fact they played in the decidedly UN-fabulous “Fabulous Forum”). Whatever the case, I pledged I would never, EVER, support the Lakers – period.
Luckily, there was an alternative, and it was a quirky team that never won and played in a dump of an arena in one of the worst areas of the city. That team, the Clippers, were my salvation. On any given day, I could show up, score a ticket for less than five bucks before tip-off, and watch professional basketball without pressure or expectation. Over those early years, I got to see Hakeem the Dream, Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde the Glide, MJ, and a cast of other NBA legends parade through the Sports Arena to run roughshod over a (usually) undermanned, outgunned roster run by the worst owner in sports history. And I loved every minute. When I met my the girl who would become my wife in 1989, she didn’t even realize the Clippers were an actual LA team. Ah, those were the days. Ralph Lawler, our poor man’s Chick Hearn, called the games with his usual critical eye and never mentioned butter, refrigerators, or eggs; it was so representative of the LA I wanted. Our fans were (and I’d argue still remain) unpretentious, sincere, and knowledgeable about basketball in ways (most) Laker fans cannot fathom. To this day, even with shiny Staples Center replacing the LA Sports Arena and unprecedented success on the court, I enjoy attending games with my decidedly down-to-earth fellow Angelinos. Hint: for most games you can still get tickets under $10.00 in the upper tier seats.
Laker fans are never happy. They’ve had great success but can’t enjoy or savor it because next year is immediately set into motion after the last second ticks off the clock and the trophy is – or isn’t – hoisted. Drama follows their every move and their winning is as hollow as their monetary limits. Remember how indignant Laker fans became when the league dared shoot down the Chris Paul trade? It was Laker fans’ ultimate “Let them eat cake” moment as if the league had somehow betrayed them and dared allow a premier player to wind up in red over purple. When the Lakers flamed out against Oklahoma City in last season’s playoffs, most of my Laker following friends blamed the loss on – of course – the harpooning of the CP3 trade. No matter, they were all back on their high horse and crowing when Dwight Howard, a player scorned almost as much as LeBron when he left Cleveland, and Steve Nash were signed and the Championship parade put back on their agendas. Every loss this season is casually and arrogantly waved off with the standard, “Wait til Steve Nash gets back,” and, “D’Antoni just needs to implement his system,” mumbo jumbo. Pau is now being thrown under the bus and “big boy pants” is competing with Gangam Style to see which jumps the proverbial shark first. Does anyone remember how Pau brought back to back titles to this spoiled team? Has anyone bothered to see that the Laker’s “savior” is 39 years old and only averaged 12 points and 9 assists in 29 minutes per game last season? Of course not. Laker fans fully expect this over aged, defensively challenged, slow bunch of capped busting “superstars” to be right there beating Miami in June. If they’re not, the fans will mimic Kobe and pout their way to the next blockbuster trade that’ll satisfy their never ending delusion that their team is somehow special. In a way, they remind me of Yankees lovers.
Over the years, I’ve mellowed in my ways and learned to root for the Dodgers and the Rams (and Raiders) left town years ago, leaving me to cheer for my Niners with no local conflicts. My contempt for the Lakers, though, has never wavered, nor has my love of the Clippers. If they win the Championship, I will rejoice and join the few fellow fans who’ll toast their success NOW, without future expectations or pressure to do it 15 more times. On the other side, if CP3 decides to leave after this season, I’ll wish him well and get ready for whomever will step into his impossible to fill shoes. This is my life as a Clipper fan; relaxed, fun, and emblematic of all things Southern California represents.
Michael West – Staff Writer
What’s the biggest difference between fans of the Los Angeles Clippers and fans of the Los Angeles Lakers? There’s actually quite a few noticeable differences between the two fan bases. For supporters of both teams, you can boil it down to who is optimistic and who is pessimistic. Clippers fans would certainly be the optimists, I don’t think there’s any arguing that. Heck, you could make the case that Clippers fans are the most loyal fans in all of the NBA, possibly even in all of professional sports given a, well, less than storied history. Despite season after season featuring a whole lot more losing than winning, Clippers fans stuck around and still supported their beloved team through the minimal ups and overwhelming amount of downs. Lakers fans on the other hand have the history that Clippers fans, let’s be honest, could only dream about. Lakers supporters are used to winning… and winning often. So when things don’t exactly work out as they have so often in the past, Lakers fans are quick to pull the trigger on making immediate changes (see Brown, Mike). Lakers fans are extremely short-sighted, as compared to Clippers fans seeing things through and understanding the development process that goes with improving. The Lakers have truly never had to rebuild, as they always have seemed to reload, whether it was via trade or through free agency, the Lakers always seemed to have a top-tier quality roster no matter which year it was.
The Clippers on the other hand, had never been a sexy free agent destination in the pre-”Basketball Reasons” era, but that’s all changed since. In short, these two fan bases have two drastically different histories, and because of that, have two entirely different styles of thinking. The Clippers understand the value of the draft as compared to where the Lakers understand the value of “win now.” Speaking in terms of thought processes, there’s no disputing that the mentalities of the two franchises are so incredibly different… and it’s great to see these two styles clash now that Los Angeles has two quality basketball teams (despite the Lakers’ current shortcomings, let’s face it, they will figure it out). But Laker fans, please don’t ever divert a spirited Clippers/Lakers conversation by saying “we have 17 banners how many do you have?” That is the weakest argument and Clippers fans have heard it for too long. By all means be proud of your past, as you darn well should be, but for the love of God, don’t cop out like that. Please.
Brandon LaChance – Writer/Editor
The difference in the two LA team’s fan bases has everything to do with the culture of the team. The Lakers have been set up to win, win, win—right now. They’ve always had a superstar and high level role players. In the Clippers case, they’ve only had one top level player before Chris Paul, Bob McAdoo in the 1970′s. They’ve had solid players in the likes of Elton Brand and numerous Rookie of the Year Award winners, but no one to be considered championship contenders. With all that said, the environment/culture of the team creates the fan. Laker fans are upset because they’re not witnessing the dominance they thought they’d get when Dwight Howard and Steve Nash were signed while Clipper fans are getting something they’ve never witnessed before—winning.
Derick Green – Staff Writer
“Oh Me Oh MY” – Los Angeles Clipper fans vs. Los Angeles Laker Fans…interesting topic, because it is rather difficult for me. I don’t like bashing the inner city rivals Lakers but it’s so easy to criticize the purple & gold fans. They’re atrocious (not the organization in full). I’ve personally never been to a Laker home game, something I will never do so my opinion is based off interaction with friends, family, Facebook, school, and game watching…etc.
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