No matter how hard they try, the Clippers just cannot win over L.A.


Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the latest sports news in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @AkiemBailum.

May 10, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of the Staples Center before game three of the second round of the NBA playoffs between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It is morning across this great sporting land of ours, we call North America. That, of course, includes the metropolitan Los Angeles area.

Although, given where you are in LA or where your basketball allegiances lie in the city of Angels, the forecast on KTLA-TV 5 is either saying that it’ll be nice and sunny with temperatures in the 70s, or overcast with thunderstorms and temps in the 60s.

So much for “It Never Rains in Southern California.”

The Los Angeles Clippers, always playing the role of the little sister (or brother) to that of the Lakers in Hollywood. Even under a new owner in Steve Ballmer who is so rich, Realists, that he has $1 million in his undies, some things just do not change.

The Clippers just gagged away a 3-1 series lead in the NBA’s Western Conference Semifinals to the Houston Rockets. It is also the second time this has happened for head coach Doc Rivers in his coaching career.

Los Angeles had it won and it appeared that a NoCal-SoCal matchup in the Western Conference Finals between them and the Golden State Warriors was all but set.

Then, the last three games against the Rockets happened—particularly a Game Six at Staples Center where the Clippers had a 19-point lead before Houston lived up to its “Clutch City” nickname.

That evened the series at three games apiece. Just as the Chicago Cubs did in 2003 when they gave a way a 3-1 lead to the Florida Marlins in the National League Championship Series, the Clippers had another shot to turn that Game Six into a footnote.

Unfortunately for them, the Rockets were riding the momentum of their comeback victory in Game 6 and parlayed it into a Game 7 home win over Los Angeles and a berth to the Western Conference Finals against Steph Curry and Golden State.

James Harden finished the game with 31 points. Also, ironically, the game was sealed with a late fourth quarter three from Trevor Ariza, a former champion with the Lakers. Ariza had 22 in the Rockets’ victory.

Virtually all that was missing from the Game 6 was someone to play the role of Steve Bartman.

LA Laker fans do not have much room to talk trash to Clippers fans if we are talking about the context of their current rosters. At least the Clippers made it to the playoffs while the purple and gold were a robust…21-61 in the 2014-15 season. The only playoffs the Lakers would have been eligible for this season would have been a one-seed in the NCAA tournament.

It appeared as if for all of the Clippers’ hard work and the fact that they do have a better team than the Lakers at this point, they still will not manage to out-Laker the Lakers in Southern California. One needed to look (or hear) no further than Dodger Stadium shortly after the game in Houston concluded.

The Dodgers were playing their NL West rival Colorado Rockies at Chavez Ravine that afternoon. When the final score of the Rockets-Clippers game was announced at Dodger Stadium, the crowd there reportedly cheered.

So much for California love!

Even when the Lakers are at their worst, LA is still very much a Lakers town. In Los Angeles, there are very definitive geographical boundaries when it comes to sporting loyalties. In Los Angeles County (the most populated county in the country), they “Think Blue” and bleed purple and gold.

Go further south into Orange County and one is more likely to encounter hordes of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fans. In addition, there are also Anaheim Ducks fans as well as LA Clippers fans.

Los Angeles has two teams in its locale because it is the second-largest media market in the country. Any Los Angeles franchise is sure to be worth a ton of money and that is certainly the case with the Lakers and Clippers.

But based on this loss to the Rockets, and the reaction from the fans at Chavez Ravine, it feels as if LA proper only has one team, even if that team stinks up the basketball court at Staples nowadays.

When the Clippers play at Staples Center, they promptly try to hide and cover up any and all of the Lakers trimmings and trappings that decorate the interior of the stadium.

They do this to try to present an image of Staples Center being a Clippers stadium. But that building is the house that Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson built. No Clippers were involved in the building of Staples Center.

La-La Land may be able to support two teams, but as they say in old western flicks, “This town just ain’t big enough for the two of us!”

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