Doc Rivers often talks about how Chicago is the Mecca of NBA basketball, his opinion naturally informed by the fact that he grew up there. He brings it up every time he talks about Patrick Beverley, in particular, and dismisses outright the thought of any other city holding a candle to Chicago.
The strange thing about Rivers’ insistence on proclaiming Chicago to be the basketball capital is that there is compelling evidence on his team of a superior alternative, a city that he happens to live in. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both grew up in the outskirts of Los Angeles and are part of a talented generation of L.A. hoopers, one that dominates the league right now.
On the “Knuckleheads” podcast, George talked about how watching the Lakers and the Clippers (specifically Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson, the hosts of the podcast) when he was growing up inspired him, as well as so many of the other stars in the league:
“I think Kobe played a big part in that, y’all (Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson) played a big part in that, BD (Baron Davis) played a big part in that. We was fortunate to grow up in California and have great role models and leaders in front of us that we could watch on a daily basis, so I think a lot of that movement came from what was going on in Cali.
“It’s just so many dudes out there, from dudes that ain’t in the league right now like [Brandon] Jennings was a monster, [Dorell] wright, [Trevor Ariza], it was just a culture because of what we were seeing every day, and that really just birthed a whole new one, from myself, DeMar [DeRozan], Russ [Westbrook], James [Harden], it’s just so much good hoops here. I think y’all had a part in that, and even like Gil [Arenas] and Nick Young, it was just so many hoopers that we were able to see that kind of birthed that next generation.”
In terms of current star power, L.A. is pretty clearly unmatched. The 2020 All-Star Game had three players from L.A. (Leonard, Westbrook, Harden) compared to just one from Chicago (Anthony Davis). The Lakers and Clippers are also a much bigger draw than the Bulls, and so long as these two teams stay successful, they’ll motivate a new generation of players from Los Angeles. It means a lot to George, who grew up as one of those kids, to now be able to inspire younger players by suiting up for an L.A. team, just another one of the reasons why it makes sense for him to with the Clippers at this stage of his career.
It’s too bad George won’t be able to finish his first season in front of the Los Angeles fans, but hopefully he has many more years to play for his hometown team.
On to the links...
- The first player from a championship contender has opted out of the NBA restart, as Avery Bradley will not be joining the Lakers in Orlando. It was originally reported that players would have to inform teams by June 24 if they were excusing themselves from the rest of the season, but that appears to have been a soft deadline. Players will now have until July 1 to make that decision.
- Meanwhile, teams are ramping up coronavirus testing in preparation for heading to the campus in Florida. Even though some positive tests are to be expected, it is no less jarring when Woj tweets out, “One Western Conference playoff team had four positives in past few weeks.” One player who has confirmed to test positive is Denver’s Nikola Jokic.
- As a result of the increased risks for NBA players during the restart, the players association is putting together an “enhanced” insurance plan.
- The shake-up of the NBA calendar this season calls for a re-evaluation of the 82-game schedule.
- Paul George says he finally finished rehabbing his shoulders a few weeks ago.
- A look at the Clippers’ potential path through the Western Conference playoffs.