Changing of the guard
Josh Wax, ‘Doah Contributing Writer
February 12, 2014
Los Angeles has always been notorious for producing successful sports franchises and memorable athletes. One of those infamous franchises over the years has been the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers are 16-time NBA champions spanning from 1949 to 2010, with five of those championships being between 2000 and 2010. The Lakers have showcased several star players on their teams ranging from Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neil, to the present day star of Kobe Bryant.
Of those stars, a case can be made that Kobe Bryant has been the best to ever play basketball in Los Angeles. However, changing of the guard could be occurring and soon the “redheaded stepchildren,” Los Angeles Clippers, could dethrone Kobe Bryant and the Lakers as the new kings of Los Angeles.
Unlike the Lakers, the Clippers have never had the success nor the players the Lakers have had.
Brought into the NBA as merely an expansion team, the Clippers have never won a championship since the establishment of the organization in 1970. They are frequently seen as an example of a perennial loser in American professional sports after posting 32 losing seasons over the years.
Since 2010 however, the Clippers have started acquiring the necessary pieces in order to contend in the NBA through acquisitions of big man Blake Griffin and point guard Chris Paul. The combination of Griffin and Paul led the Clippers to its first division championship in franchise history and perhaps a change in identity for the city of Los Angeles.
Due to the recent success in the past years by the Clippers, the Lakers have had extra pressure to continue their dominance. Since their championship season in 2010, the Lakers have failed to get past the Western Conference semifinals, including a first round loss last year.
That same year the Lakers finished third in the Western Conference while the Clippers finished first. Some people give the recent success of the Clippers to Chris Paul, and the slow decline of the Lakers falls on Kobe Bryant’s shoulders.
Comparisons between Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul have sparked debate over who is the best guard in Los Angeles.
Bryant entered his 17 season this year compared to Paul’s eighth. But due to a torn achilles tendon in last year’s playoffs, as well as a fractured left plateau in his tibia earlier this year, Kobe is undergoing intense rehab at 35 in order to get back on the court.
Meanwhile, Chris Paul experienced one of the best seasons in Clipper history last year and continued his dominance into this season before a shoulder injury slowed down his production.
With the absence of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have posted the worst record for the first half of the season in the last decade and continue to fall further down the Western Conference standings.
If the Lakers can’t turn the second half of the season around we could be witnesses of a change and Chris Paul dethrone Kobe Bryant as the face of basketball in Los Angeles.
The Clippers already believe the end is near for the Lakers as they are covering the Lakers championship banners for every home game, since they share the Staples Center.
The slow death of the Lakers and Kobe Bryant shows that greats eventually will crumble and allow other franchises, such as the Clippers and Chris Paul, to assert themselves into stardom.
Lob City and Chris Paul have all of the right pieces to become NBA Champions, and slowly make the Lakers the second placed team in Los Angeles.