If you were to ask a thousand Lakers fan how they felt about the Los Angeles Clippers under new owner Steve Ballmer you would probably get a thousand different answers. But there’s one answer that Lakers fans would give that has never been used before when talking about the Clippers: jealous.
That’s how I would respond to that question if it was posed to me.
Yes, I said it. I’m jealous of the Los Angeles Clippers organization right now. Yes, I’m a Lakers fan. No, I’ve never said before that I’m jealous of the Clippers. And no, I never thought I would say that. But, in 2014, it has become a reality, at least for me.
The Clippers now have one of the brightest business minds in the entire world running their organization. Steve Ballmer is fiery, competitive, intelligent, and persuasive. The Clippers press conference held yesterday at Staples Center was more like a Joel Osteen sermon or a Tony Robbins motivational speech than it was a fan fest. And you know what? I was jealous.
Ballmer wants the Clippers to be “hardcore”, whatever that means. Sounds kind of cool though. He chanted with the fans “I Love Larry” when referring to his desire to bring a championship to the Clippers organization. He made Clippers fans believe that they can be the NBA’s next dynasty. I’m not saying I believe in all of that, or any of it for that matter, but it made me a little bit jealous that the Clippers now have an owner that cares so deeply about winning that he’s going to do anything it takes to make it happen. I don’t know if I can say the same about the Jim Buss. I don’t know if I can say anything about Jim Buss. He’s locked in a closet somewhere with a magic 8-ball trying to figure out what to do next.
During the 2013 season I was a bit jealous of the Clippers success. Why wouldn’t I be? The Clippers have one of the brightest coaches in basketball in Doc Rivers and have two of the best players in the league in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. However, I never got to the point where I said I was jealous because I knew the Clippers had Donald Sterling as an owner and something told me they didn’t quite have enough firepower to truly compete for an NBA title. Call it karma, call it blind faith in the basketball gods, but I was sure the Clippers would never win a title with Donald Sterling. Now? Now I’m inclined to believe they have a real shot in 2014-15 and will be one of the best organization in basketball for years to come.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about the Lakers. Yes, the Lakers have 16 titles to fall back on. That’s always the trump card. However, the next few years look bleak for the Lakers organization. And, to be honest, that may be an understatement. Look, Lakers fans are irrational about the franchise. Why wouldn’t they be? For the past 60 years the Lakers have been competitive, a run that is unmatched in professional sports.
The Yankees, Steelers, Packers, Celtics, Patriots, Canadiens, Red Sox, Dodgers, Giants, and so on are truly incredible organizations, but they’ve all had long stretches when they haven’t been competitive. Not the Lakers. Year in and year out since the 1950′s the Lakers have been one of the best organizations in basketball. Heck, they’ve only missed the playoffs six times since 1957. SIX TIMES!
However, this is the darkest hour for Lakers basketball since the team missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons in 1974-75 and 1975-76. The Lakers don’t know what their identity is going to be two years from now. Right now it’s Kobe Bryant and the gang. But we don’t even know what that looks like. The Clippers, on the other hand, have a true identity going forward with Steve Ballmer. They’re going to be technologically savvy, they’re going to be high class all the way, and they’re going to have competent executives across the board. The same can not be said for the Lakers. That is why I’m jealous of the Clippers.