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Kawhi Leonard gives us the Clippers vs. Lakers rivalry we didn’t know we wanted

Kawhi Leonard gives us the Clippers vs. Lakers rivalry we didn't know we wanted 1

NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard left the Raptors for the Clippers.

Irrespective of what number of instances you learn that out loud, it is a stunning transfer contemplating Leonard was anticipated to both stick with the Raptors or be part of the Lakers. Leonard, the 28-year-old Southern California native, captivated the NBA all through that championship run. Quirky tales in regards to the Board Man’s persona piled up as he averaged 28.5 factors and 9.eight rebounds whereas ruining the Warriors’ bid for a three-peat.

MORE: NBA gamers react to Kawhi, PG-13 becoming a member of forces

The Clippers weren’t regarded as a critical contender within the Kawhi Sweepstakes – not less than not on the identical degree because the Lakers and Raptors – however now that they’ve received, we’re 99 % positive it is going to be superior in Tinseltown.

It is lovely for Los Angeles – and the NBA – and it is going to spawn the Western Convention rivalry we did not know we wished given what’s at stake for all of the superstars and energy brokers concerned. Merely put, Lakers vs. Clippers is the largest and neatest thing the NBA has to supply proper now, even in a loaded Western Convention.

This rivalry is lastly actual. The Lakers and Clippers have reached the playoffs in the identical season solely six instances. They’ve by no means met within the postseason. They’ve by no means received 50 video games or extra apiece in the identical season. It is traditionally by no means been a rivalry as a result of the Lakers have the championships, however the Clippers have had the higher hand in latest seasons by way of the Lakers’ six-season playoff drought.

YEAR RESULT
1973-74 Each misplaced conf. semis
1991-92 Each misplaced first spherical
1992-93 Each misplaced first spherical
2005-06 Clippers misplaced conf. semis, Lakers misplaced first spherical
2011-12 Each misplaced in conf. semis
2012-13 Each misplaced first spherical

Leonard has not stepped on the ground but, however Lakers-Clippers is method greater than that now, as a result of LeBron James is concerned. Leonard opted to not kind a brilliant staff, and the NBA is healthier for it. James, 34, failed to succeed in the postseason for the primary time since 2004-05 and may add a couple of extra chapters in that greatest-of-all-time-argument with Michael Jordan. Leonard, who drew some comparisons to Jordan on this yr’s playoffs, is in his method in the identical metropolis. Who’s the very best participant in Los Angeles proper now?

That is the very best query of the summer season.

That raises the stakes for his or her wingmen. Anthony Davis made it to Los Angeles, however not earlier than his popularity was questioned on the commerce deadline. New Orleans has moved on with one other No. 1 decide in Zion Williamson. Davis has one thing to show.

On the opposite facet, Paul George escapes from Oklahoma Metropolis just one yr after re-signing with the Thunder. George is coming off a season through which he averaged a career-high 28.zero factors per sport, and now the Palmdale, Calif., native is also coming dwelling. Which tag staff is healthier proper now?

That is the second-best query of the summer season.

George shall be up towards his former coach in Frank Vogel, who hasn’t taken a staff previous the primary spherical because the convention finals towards the James-led Warmth in 2013-14. Now Vogel will get to educate James and Davis, and the theme shall be “Don’t mess it up.”

Doc Rivers, in the meantime, hasn’t led the Clippers previous the primary spherical of the playoffs within the final 4 seasons. There isn’t a excuse to not make a run to not less than the Western Convention finals. It is now-or-never-time for each coaches.

They are not the one energy brokers at stake. Lakers proprietor Jeanie Buss and basic supervisor Rob Pelinka can not afford extra dangerous PR after Magic Johnson’s resignation. Clippers proprietor Steve Ballmer, president Lawrence Frank and guide Jerry West lastly pushed the chips all-in after seeing what Leonard did for Toronto. Klutch Sports activities agent Wealthy Paul will proceed working behind the scenes. Key questions will get answered on the court docket for the following three-to-five years, and extra supporting solid members will be part of the present.

How massive is it? The Clippers and Lakers have the very best NBA championship odds now, higher than the Warriors, who’ve received the Western Convention the final 5 seasons.

The drama between the Lakers and Clippers shall be off the charts, and that is all the time good for enterprise within the NBA. That is solely going to extend if and when each groups win 50 video games, attain the playoffs and even perhaps meet within the NBA playoffs for the primary time.

Think about Clippers-Lakers within the Western Convention finals. “The King of the North” difficult “King James” within the NBA’s “Game of Thrones.” That did not appear attainable every week in the past, however now that manufacturing is beginning, you need to see {that a} hell of much more than “Space Jam 2.” Not less than you need to.

The place might one thing like this occur? Solely in LA.

There isn’t a query about that.

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