Banners are a big deal in any city with a history or expectation of winning. The banners in the rafters are the long term equivalent of yelling “Scoreboard” at your opponent. The more banners the louder the yell. When the Clippers won the Pacific Division Title for the first time in franchise history, their championship banners didn’t yell very loud, probably due to the big goose egg in that column, probably laid by Michael Olowakandi. But the Clippers players and fans yelled plenty loud anyway.
After the Clippers clinched the title against the Lakers Sunday, the debate centered around whether the Clippers would raise a banner in STAPLES Center to recognize the achievement. The season isn’t over so it has not been determined what the Clippers will do yet. So the question remains: Is it a big deal if the Clippers raise a banner in STAPLES? Or is it No Deal?
The most obvious objection to the banner raising are the 11 gold championship banners in the rafters at STAPLES at least 41 days of the season. To raise a banner for anything less than a championship in LA is beneath us, because LA expects champions.
But the LA Kings have their lone division championship banner raised. That Smythe Division winning banner was a lonely one between 1993 and last season when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup Championship in nearly 50 years of existence. The Clippers moved to LA in 1984, to San Diego in 1978, and began in Buffalo in 1970. No matter when you start counting from, that’s a long time for so little success.
But think about it this way. If the Charlotte Bobcats won a conference title, that would be a big deal in their franchise history. The depth of professional athletic success in Charlotte is not what it is LA (Sorry Your Airness, your six NBA titles only fit comfortably like a Hanes Comfortsoft T shirt in Chicago. It doesn’t roll over to Charlotte, obviously).
The Clippers success this season, and desire to raise a banner as Pacific Division Champs is diminished by the Lakers franchise success, but I think that the Clippers success this season is more important and impressive because it was in direct contrast and opposition to the Lakers’ still floundering season. It may seem like bizarro world with the Clippers Conference Championship. But it is the state of the NBA headed into the 2013 playoffs.
I would ordinarily be opposed to the Clippers raising a banner. LA is about championships, and I think trying to raise a banner undeservedly is a big deal. But since the Clippers conference title came in a season where the Lakers struggled so mightly, and since it was especially clinched against the Lakers, I think they should raise a banner to signify the dynamic in professional basketball in LA has changed. And it is a big deal.
What do you think? Is the Clippers Conference Championship a Big Deal, or No Deal Hubsters?