When the Los Angeles Lakers returned from their trip to China on October 21st to prepare for the NBA regular season, a reporter asked current player Nick Young what he thought about Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers’ decision to cover the Lakers championship banners when the Clippers are playing at the Staples Center.
His response? “It is disrespectful.” But, is it really? Is it so bad that Coach Rivers wanted to show that when the Clippers play, it is their house?
This wouldn’t be an issue if the Clippers had their own stadium, but alas, they do not. When they moved to L.A. in 1984, they actually did have their own stadium, the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena, which was the former Lakers stadium before they moved into the Great Western Forum. When they moved into the Staples Center in 1999, there was already a divide in the city for the two teams, but, the Lakers were better, consistently beating the Clippers. And badly.
But, since the Clippers acquired Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, things have definitely turned around. Now, they compete against the Lakers in attendance. They won the Pacific Division last year, and have made the playoffs three times in eight years. The fan base has been growing, and they are not afraid to show their support.
So, is it a bad thing to represent the team properly? It is not like they stowed away the Lakers’ banners into some dusty closet. All they are doing is showcasing their roster, their talent, to their fans. Why would a Clippers fan want to see Lakers stuff when they are coming into the building? Isn’t it appropriate to make it “their house?” I believe so.
The Clippers and Lakers are the only teams in the NBA to share a stadium. It is not a common practice in other sports, either. The NFL has two teams sharing a stadium: the New York Jets and the New York Giants; they currently play at MetLife Stadium. There are, however, many stadiums that share different sports, such as the MLB Oakland Athletics and the NFL Oakland Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum.
So, while stadiums share different sports teams, a sports organization rarely lets two teams share one. It makes it easier for the fan to be proud of their team and show it off in their own stadium. It is like a possession thing: this is ours. This is the place our team plays. This is the main place to root and cheer them on.
So, while it is not a big deal for the Raiders and the Athletics because they are different sports, it does create a challenge for the NBA and NFL teams that share a stadium. Think about when they have games during the regular season, pre-season, and playoffs. Changing the apparel stores, signs, banners, etc. for each game, that takes some time. But they do not to not piss off their fan base.
So, yes, I agree with Coach Rivers in deciding to put up their Clippers roster over the Lakers’ banners. He is the head coach of the Clippers. He wants to represent the Clippers. And he wants the Clippers to be represented properly. He wants them to known as an individual team. And he does that by making the Staples Center “their house.” There is nothing wrong with that.
By Renayle Fink