Clippers Look To Make Strides In L.A. Market Amid Lakers' Issues
The Clippers are "finally a team Los Angeles can put its arms around and embrace" 35 years after they moved to the city from San Diego, according to Arash Markasi of the L.A. TIMES. The team is a "picture of stability after eight consecutive winning seasons and seven playoff berths" compared to their Staples Center co-tenant Lakers being a "team in disarray." The Clippers' Steve Ballmer is the "wealthiest owner in professional sports," while the team also possesses one of the "most accomplished coaches in Doc Rivers and one of the most respected front offices." The franchise knows it will not "flip longtime Lakers fans that were raised on championships but they want the next generation of fans to narrow the gap between the fan bases." There are more than 120,000 participants in the Jr. Clippers program, which leads the NBA and is "up from 27th in the league two years ago." Additionally, Ballmer and the Clippers Foundation have donated nearly $100M to community programs in the L.A. region since Ballmer bought the team in '14 (L.A. TIMES, 4/18).
ALL THE RIGHT MOVES: THE ATHLETIC's Sam Amick noted since Ballmer bought the Clippers, he has done "everything possible to cut into the Lakers' stranglehold on the local market." That includes building a "functional, competitive organization full of capable people." Hiring Jerry West in '17 as a consultant has "created a popularity contest of sorts between ... two men who have statues outside of the Staples Center" -- West and Magic Johnson, who resigned as Lakers president of basketball operations on April 9. The "turf war will only get more intensified this summer, when both teams will be chasing the same franchise-altering talent in this loaded 2019 free agency crop" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/18).