The Clippers meet the Lakers in Staples tonight (the Lakers are officially the home team). The game is actually live on national TV on TNT. The OC Register and the LA Daily News each ran articles about the game, of the "Hey, the Clippers no longer suck but now the Lakers kind of do" variety. All this for a pre-season game.
Of course, Kobe won't be playing, so the game is especially meaningless. I wouldn't be surprised if the Clippers lose, just from a total lack of motivation, though I'm sure Dunleavy will push them to stay sharp.
Marcia Smith's column in the Register is pretty standard fare. Clippers are no longer doormats. Free agents actually want to play here. That sort of thing. It was nice of her to notice.
Kevin Modesti in the Daily News has an interesting take on the rivalry, focusing on Vladimir Radmanovic's decision to move across the hall. VladRad went to the Lakers, not for a chance to win a ring, not really for a better chance to win: he went for more minutes. It tells you something about the changing fortunes of these franchises when the same player is told he will start for the Lakers, but not for the Clippers.
Modesti does have one pretty bad clinker in the piece: "Last season, the Clippers (47-35) were competitive with the Lakers (45-37) for the first time in years." Well, two season ago, the Clippers were 37-45 and the Lakers were 34-48, so I think we'll have to change that sentence to "second time in years" or possibly "first time in year".
It is interesting to note that relatively few players have played for both of the LA teams. Norm Nixon and Jamaal Wilkes are the high profile ones. (Wilkes signed with the Clippers as a free agent in September 85 and retired from basketball 3 months later.) Modesti and Kurt Rambis failed to come up with a name when asked if anyone prior to VladRad had gone straight from the Clippers to the Lakers: well, how about Swen Nater, who was in the Norm Nixon deal (along with the draft rights to Byron Scott)? Benoit Benjamin, you may recall, also spent part of a season in the Forum in 1993, which incidentally is the last time prior to 04-05 that the Clippers finished with a better record than the Lakers.
If the Lakers would just sign Michael Olowokandi, everything will have come full circle.