It's no secret that the Los Angeles Clippers have an uphill battle to get attention and respect in their own town. Playing in the second largest market in the country has certain advantages to be sure, as Cliff Paul and the Griffin Force would attest, but playing in the shadow of the ringzz-laden Lakers, as a team that for 25 or so years was among the worst in all of sports, presents specific challenges that perhaps no other sports franchise faces.
There are always going to be diehard Laker fans who will never consider cheering for the Clippers and will probably always harbor disdain for them, regardless of how good the Clippers are or how bad the Lakers are. That's cool; that's what fans should do.
But major newspapers?
It shouldn't come as a surprise that I don't actually read the newspaper, at least not in paper form. I'm a blogger, and I spend pretty much all day long online, and the idea of reading the news off of dead trees 12 or so hours after it was already published online is -- well, silly. But my parents take the Times, and my brother takes the Times, and I have friends that take the Times, so every once in awhile I actually see something they wrote other than Brad Turner's Clippers coverage.
The front page of the sports section of the largest daily metropolitan newspaper in the country proclaimed today:
In June [in years past], when Kobe and his friends were done for the season, all eyes would turn to baseball.
Not this year. The Lakers already are done for this season - though, even in their abysmal state, they are still more compelling than the Clippers. Nothing about the Bruins screams "Final Four."
Even in their abysmal state, the Lakers are more compelling than the Clippers.
Now, I don't know Bill Shaikin from Adam. Apparently he's a baseball guy, and I don't give a shit about baseball. He's trying to drum up interest in his niche of the sports beat, so good for him. Baseball is about as current in my thinking as newspapers, so it's a good fit. But isn't there something, I don't know, irresponsible, about such a simplistic and willfully uninformed statement? I realize that Shaikin's tongue was in his cheek when he wrote that (good FSM I hope it was anyway) but really?
And is it really in the interests of the Times to tell their sports readership "Sure, the Clippers could be playing in May or June, but ignore them -- the Cactus League is just around the corner!"
Amazingly, the Clippers are much more compelling outside of their own market. They are a fixture on the national TV schedule, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are perennial All Stars and arguably the two most marketed players in the NBA, and national sports media are all over the team. But the cover of the Sports section of the LA Times treats them as if they don't exist. Even if they think they're being funny, it's not funny and it's not smart.
Oh well. More readers for me. Continue to treat the Clippers and their fans as an afterthought LAT -- continue to do a shitty job covering the team with two of the best players in the NBA, signed for four more seasons, and a championship coach. I'll send you a thank you note later. Or rather I'll send you an email, since no one reads anything on paper anymore.