Lakers–Clippers rivalry

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Lakers–Clippers rivalry
Hallway Series
Al Thornton guarded by Andrew Bynum cropped.jpg
Lakers Luke Walton and Andrew Bynum (No. 17) guard Clipper Al Thornton (12) in 2009.
City or region Los Angeles
Teams involved Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
First contested November 24, 1984
Most wins Lakers
Most recent meeting April 6, 2014
All-time series Lakers 98–36
Regular season series Lakers 98–36
Postseason results 0–0

The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are rival teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA).[1] The two Pacific Division teams both play their home games at Staples Center in Los Angeles, inspiring their matchups to sometimes be called the "Hallway Series". The Lakers relocated from Minneapolis in 1960, while the Clippers moved from San Diego in 1984. Los Angeles fans have historically favored the Lakers.[2][3] The Lakers have won 11 NBA championships since moving to Los Angeles;[4] meanwhile, the Clippers have made the playoffs only six times since 1984 and were long considered the laughingstock of the NBA.[5][6][7][8] Some contended that the term rivalry was inaccurate until the Clippers become more successful.[9] For the first time in 20 years, the Clippers won the season series against the Lakers in 2012–13. The Lakers hold a 98–36 advantage in the all-time series against the Clippers.[a] The two teams have never met in the playoffs.

History[edit]

1970–1984: Early years[edit]

The Clippers were founded in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves and played in the Atlantic Division. They moved to San Diego in 1978–79 and were renamed the Clippers and joined the Lakers in the Pacific Division. San Diego won in their first game against the Lakers. "This is a good way to start off a rivalry", said Clippers owner Irv Levin afterwards.[12]

1984: Clippers move to Los Angeles[edit]

The Clippers moved to Los Angeles in 1984 after six seasons in San Diego. The team originally made their home in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (formerly the Lakers' home arena from 1960–67), about 10 miles (16 km) from the Lakers then-home at The Forum. After the Clippers move, the teams drew a crowd of 14,991 in their first meeting at the Sports Arena; it was the then-largest home-court attendance in Clippers history. The fans were evenly divided in their support of the two teams. The Lakers won 108–103, and the Associated Press (AP) wrote that "a crosstown rivalry was born". Former Lakers guard Norm Nixon, then in his second year with the Clippers, said "I think it's going to great every time we play ... When we get some more [wins], our fans won't have to cover their heads with their hats anymore."[13] The Clippers marketed themselves as the "People's Team" with ticket prices ($4, $8, $12, and $15) that were lower than the Lakers ($7, $9.50, $13,50, and $27.50 and above). Lakers coach Pat Riley commented, "I felt we've done more the last 20 years to be the 'People's Team'"[13][14]

1984-2011: Lakers success and Clippers struggles[edit]

Kobe Bryant in 2004 considered signing with the Clippers before re-signing with the Lakers.

By 1986, the Lakers were still undefeated against the Clippers, and AP offered that it was "a crosstown rivalry that hasn't been much of one."[15] Lakers fans would outnumber Clippers fans at the Sports Arena during the teams' matchups for years until 1992, when the Clippers had their first winning season since 1978–79 and their first playoff appearance since 1976. The Lakers, on the other hand, struggled in 1991–92 with Lakers great Magic Johnson's retirement after testing positive for HIV.[16] The Clippers ended a 27-game Forum losing streak against the Lakers that season, and they finished with a better record than the Lakers. They again finished ahead of the Lakers in 1992–93. They also won the season series against the Lakers for the first time since moving to Los Angeles. It was also their first as a franchise since 1974–75, when they were still the Buffalo Braves.[17]

From the 1994-95 to 1998-99 seasons, the Clippers played a limited number of home games at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. In those seasons, the Clippers played the Lakers at the Pond only three times, compiling a record of 1-2 against the Lakers in Anaheim.[18][19][20] A deal to move the Clippers to Anaheim on a permanent basis was declined by the team in 1996,[21] leading to the eventual decision to have the Clippers join the Lakers at the Staples Center when it opened in 1999.

The Clippers did not finish ahead of the Lakers again until 2004–05.[22][23] Lakers star Kobe Bryant almost joined the Clippers that season as a free agent before re-signing with the Lakers.[24] The Clippers in 2005–06 won 47 games and finished two games ahead of the Lakers.[25] During the season, Bryant said that "rivalries are made in the playoffs, not in the regular season".[26] In the 2006 playoffs, the Lakers built a 3–1 first-round series lead against the Phoenix Suns before losing 4–3, spoiling a potential crosstown matchup with the Clippers in the second round.[27][28] The Clippers’ second-round series against Phoenix drew higher television ratings in Southern California than the Lakers’ first-round loss to Phoenix.[29] They missed the conference finals by one game, losing 4–3 to the Suns.[25]

Prior to a matchup in 2008 with the Lakers at 3–0 and the Clippers 0–4, the Los Angeles Times wrote that "even the involved parties have trouble referring to this thing as a rivalry."[24] Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the two teams were "always going to be a rivalry."[1] On many occasions, he picked on the Clippers' often poor record.[24]

2010-present:The rise of Lob City[edit]

Blake Griffin's highlight plays renewed interest in the Clippers.

Starting with the 2010–11 season, Blake Griffin, with his highlight reel plays, helped draw interest in the Clippers.[2] A turning point in the rivalry occurred before the following season, when the Lakers thought they had acquired Chris Paul in a trade from the New Orleans Hornets, but commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade and Paul was instead traded to the Clippers.[29][30] Prior to Paul's arrival, the Clippers had the worst overall winning percentage in the NBA (.349) since they moved to Los Angeles, while the Lakers during that same period had the best (.659).[31] In a game that season between the two teams won by the Clippers, tempers flared and seven technical fouls were called. Although it was a home game for the Clippers at Staples, Clippers fans were still outnumbered by Lakers fans.[32] In a heated rematch won by the Lakers, ESPN wrote, "If the Staples co-tenants didn't have a rivalry before [the game], they have one now."[33] Paul was upset after the game that Lakers forward Pau Gasol touched him on the head. "...don't touch the top of my head like I'm one of your kids", warned Paul.[33] Some Clippers in 2012 denied that a rivalry existed.[34] Griffin offered that "a rivalry has to be evenly matched, and this one hasn't been over the years."[32] Clippers center DeAndre Jordan said the Lakers "are proven. They have more championships. They have Hall of Famer players. We're still a young team."[4] The Clippers in 2011–12 had a winning record for only the third time since Donald Sterling bought the team in 1981 and made the playoffs for only the fifth time since moving to Los Angeles.[25][35] The Clippers led the Lakers by 2 12 games in mid-February before the Lakers overtook them by one game for the Pacific Division title.[25][36]

For the first time in 2012–13, the Clippers, like the Lakers, had reasonable expectations to win an NBA championship.[37][38] The Clippers signed former Lakers Ronny Turiaf, Matt Barnes, and Lamar Odom, who joined Caron Butler as Clippers who had played for the Lakers.[39] Coach Mike Brown of the 0–2 Lakers called the 1–0 Clippers "a better team" prior to their first meeting. He added, "It's sort of a rivalry now, and so it will probably be a physical game."[40] However, Brown likened the Clippers to his Cleveland Cavaliers teams with LeBron James trying to form a rivalry with the Boston Celtics despite Cleveland's lack of championships.[41] Lakers fans booed the Clippers during warmups and player introductions, which Griffin did not witness before during his rookie season. He said Lakers fans "didn't really care" about the Clippers before, and he attributed the newfound attention to his team's turnaround.[42] The Clippers won the game, dropping the Lakers to 0–3 for the first time in 34 years.[43] The game was televised by ESPN and drew a 5.9 rating in Los Angeles, the network's highest-rated regular season game ever in the L.A. market.[44] The Clippers later defeated the defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat, but the city was more engrossed in the Lakers' firing of Brown and the hiring of Mike D'Antoni. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra subsequently called the Clippers "legit contenders for the title", while Arash Markazi of ESPN.com called them "the best team in L.A."[45] Prior to their second meeting that season, the Clippers were 25–8 and fighting for the best record in the league, while the Lakers were 15–16—nine games behind the Clippers—and looking to secure a playoff spot in the Western Conference.[46] For only the fourth time in their prior 127 meetings since they moved to Los Angeles, the Clippers had a better record than the Lakers entering their matchup when both teams had played 30 or more games.[47] Prior to the game, Bryant called the Clippers "top contenders" for a championship.[46] The Clippers won 107–102 in a nationally-televised game that gave ESPN its best NBA regular-season overnight rating (2.7) in nearly two years. The local Los Angeles rating of 5.7 was the second highest ever behind the record set in the teams' previous meeting.[48] The Clippers also won their third meeting, 125–101, after starting the game with a 15–0 lead. The win clinched the season series for the Clippers for the first time in 20 years since 1992–93.[17] On April 7, the Clippers defeated the Lakers 109–95, clinching their first Pacific Division title in franchise history.[49] The Lakers had won 23 of the previous 42 division titles.[50] The win also completed a season sweep of the Lakers, 4–0. The franchise had not swept the Lakers since 1974–75, when they were in Buffalo.[49] While both teams qualified for the playoffs that season, they were both eliminated in the first round.

The Clippers in 2013–14 hired former Clippers player Doc Rivers as their new coach. He previously coached the Boston Celtics, whom the Los Angeles Times called "the Lakers' true rivals", where he won one NBA Finals and lost another in the Celtics–Lakers rivalry.[51] Rivers said that Los Angeles "always will be" a Lakers town, but he also predicted that people that moved from the East Coast to L.A. would root for the Clippers if they won an NBA title.[52] On January 10, 2014, the Clippers avenged a 13-point season opener loss to the Lakers with a 123–87 blowout in their next meeting. At the time, the 36-point margin was the Clippers' largest ever against the Lakers, who were near the bottom of the conference standing and losers for the tenth time in 11 games, a bad stretch they had not duplicated since they last missed the playoffs in 2004–05.[53][54] On March 6, the Clippers defeated the Lakers 142–94; the 48-point margin was the largest victory ever by the Clippers against any opponent, as well as the most one-sided defeat in Lakers history.[55] While the Clippers went on to win the Pacific Division title and qualify for the playoffs, the Lakers finished with one of the worst records in the Western Conference, a stark contrast from previous years.[30]

Staples Center[edit]

Staples Center serves as the home arena for both the Lakers and Clippers.

Staples Center has been the home arena of both teams since 1999.[56] Their locker rooms are 70 feet (21 m) down a concrete-floored hallway from one another, inspiring the series between the two to sometimes be referred to as the "Hallway Series".[27][57][58] The name is patterned after other notable crosstown rivalries such as baseball's Subway Series in New York and the Freeway Series in Los Angeles. The Clippers' locker room is smaller than the Lakers’.[56] The arena's seats were originally colored purple, the primary color of the Lakers as well as the Los Angeles Kings, the National Hockey League (NHL) team that also shares Staples.[59][60][61] However, the seats were replaced with black ones in 2005.[59] The Clippers are the only one of the four Staples tenants without any banners hanging to commemorate championships or retired numbers.[b][62] Starting in the 2013–14 season, during their home games, the Clippers cover the Lakers' banners, which was the Clippers' new coach Doc Rivers' idea.[63] Prior to that season, Lakers banners were previously visible in the rafters even during Clippers games.[56] Lakers games feature dramatic lighting made possible by additional lights purchased by the Lakers; the same experience is not provided during Clippers games.[62]

Staples Center during Lakers (top) and Clippers (bottom) home games.

Hollywood celebrities are often present at Lakers games, while the most recognizable Clipper fan at times is superfan Clipper Darrell.[56] "We do at times feel like the stepchild," said Jordan. "But at the same time, those guys have been highly successful. They have banners in their arena."[2] Citing the energy of Clippers fans, Bryant called away games against the Clippers at Staples his second favorite venue behind Madison Square Garden, the home of the New York Knicks.[64]

During exhibition games in December 2012 between the two teams, courtside seats with the Lakers as the designated home team were sold at $2,750, while the same seats at the Clippers home game days later went for $1,100.[29] Before the arrival of Griffin and Paul, both among the top players in the NBA, the Clippers would market their opponents' star players to improve ticket sales.[32] As attractive as the Clippers were becoming, it was hard to overcome Los Angeles' affection for the Lakers that had spanned over 50 years.[32]

The Lakers and Clippers often play doubleheaders at Staples Center, having played back-to-back games on the same day almost 60 times as of 2012. Most of the doubleheaders have occurred on a Sunday, where afternoon games are common. Separate admission is required for each game, with each team playing a different opponent. In between games, the court is reassembled with the respective home team's floor, which differ only in their paint scheme. Outside of Los Angeles, the last doubleheader in the NBA was in 1972 at Seattle Center Coliseum, when the Portland Trail Blazers played the Houston Rockets and the Seattle SuperSonics played the Philadelphia 76ers.[56]

Common players[edit]

Norm Nixon was named an All-Star with the Lakers and later the Clippers.[65]

The following players have played for both the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers:

Annual results[edit]

Season NBA season
Lakers/Clippers Team associated with subsequent columns
W Wins
L Losses
% Winning percentage
Playoffs Final result in season's playoffs
Series Record in season's head-to-head matchups
* Lakers had more regular season wins than Clippers
Clippers had more regular season wins than Lakers
Lakers won season series against the Clippers
§ Clippers won season series against the Lakers
Season Lakers W L % Playoffs Clippers W L % Playoffs Series
1984–85 L.A. Lakers 62* 20 .756 Won Finals L.A. Clippers 31 51 .378 LAL 6–0
1985–86 L.A. Lakers 62* 20 .756 Lost Western Conference Finals L.A. Clippers 32 50 .390 LAL 4–2
1986–87 L.A. Lakers 65* 17 .793 Won Finals L.A. Clippers 12 70 .146 LAL 6–0
1987–88 L.A. Lakers 62* 20 .756 Won Finals L.A. Clippers 17 65 .207 LAL 5–1
1988–89 L.A. Lakers 57* 25 .695 Lost Finals L.A. Clippers 21 61 .256 LAL 5–1
1989–90 L.A. Lakers 63* 19 .768 Lost Western Conference Semifinals L.A. Clippers 30 52 .366 LAL 4–1
1990–91 L.A. Lakers 58* 24 .707 Lost Finals L.A. Clippers 31 51 .378 LAL 4–0
1991–92 L.A. Lakers 43 39 .524 Lost Western Conference First Round L.A. Clippers 45 37 .549 Lost Western Conference First Round LAL 3–2
1992–93 L.A. Lakers 39 43 .476 Lost Western Conference First Round L.A. Clippers 41 41 .500 Lost Western Conference First Round LAC 3–2§
1993–94 L.A. Lakers 33* 49 .402 L.A. Clippers 27 55 .329 LAL 3–2
1994–95 L.A. Lakers 48* 34 .646 Lost Western Conference Semifinals L.A. Clippers 17 65 .207 LAL 3–2
1995–96 L.A. Lakers 53* 29 .646 Lost Western Conference First Round L.A. Clippers 29 53 .354 LAL 4–0
1996–97 L.A. Lakers 56* 26 .683 Lost Western Conference Semifinals L.A. Clippers 36 46 .439 Lost Western Conference First Round 2–2
1997–98 L.A. Lakers 61* 21 .744 Lost Western Conference Finals L.A. Clippers 17 65 .207 LAL 4–0
1998–99 L.A. Lakers 31* 19 .620 Lost Western Conference Semifinals L.A. Clippers 9 41 .180 LAL 4–0
1999–2000 L.A. Lakers 67* 15 .817 Won Finals L.A. Clippers 15 67 .183 LAL 4–0
2000–01 L.A. Lakers 56* 26 .707 Won Finals L.A. Clippers 31 51 .378 LAL 3–1
2001–02 L.A. Lakers 58* 24 .707 Won Finals L.A. Clippers 39 43 .476 LAL 3–1
2002–03 L.A. Lakers 50* 32 .610 Lost Western Conference Semifinals L.A. Clippers 27 55 .329 LAL 4–0
2003–04 L.A. Lakers 56* 26 .683 Lost Finals L.A. Clippers 28 54 .341 LAL 3–1
2004–05 L.A. Lakers 34 48 .415 L.A. Clippers 37 45 .451 2–2
2005–06 L.A. Lakers 45 37 .512 Lost Western Conference First Round L.A. Clippers 47 35 .573 Lost Western Conference Semifinals 2–2
2006–07 L.A. Lakers 42* 40 .512 Lost Western Conference First Round L.A. Clippers 40 42 .488 2–2
2007–08 L.A. Lakers 57* 25 .695 Lost Finals L.A. Clippers 23 59 .280 LAL 4–0
2008–09 L.A. Lakers 65* 17 .793 Won Finals L.A. Clippers 19 63 .232 LAL 4–0
2009–10 L.A. Lakers 57* 25 .695 Won Finals L.A. Clippers 29 53 .354 2–2
2010–11 L.A. Lakers 57* 25 .695 Lost Western Conference Semifinals L.A. Clippers 32 50 .390 LAL 3–1
2011–12 L.A. Lakers 41* 25 .625 Lost Western Conference Semifinals L.A. Clippers 40 26 .606 Lost Western Conference Semifinals LAL 2–1
2012–13 L.A. Lakers 45 37 .549 Lost Western Conference First Round L.A. Clippers 56 26 .683 Lost Western Conference First Round LAC 4–0§
2013–14 L.A. Lakers 27 55 .329 L.A. Clippers 57 25 .695 Lost Western Conference Semifinals LAC 3–1§

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lakers led 97–33 through 2012–13 and were 1–3 in 2013–14. Only includes games since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles; does not include games when the franchise was known as the Buffalo Braves or San Diego Clippers. The Lakers lead 144–56 all-time against the Clippers franchise.[10][11]
  2. ^ Staples is also home to the Kings of the NHL and the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).

References[edit]

General
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  84. ^ "Kareem Rush NBA & ABA Statistics". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  85. ^ "Mike Smrek NBA & ABA Statistics". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  86. ^ "Derek Strong NBA & ABA Statistics". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  87. ^ "Jamaal Wilkes NBA & ABA Statistics". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  88. ^ "Von Wafer NBA & ABA Statistics". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved January 4, 2013.

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