The battle for L.A. basketball dominance is heating up with a new number one heading into the 2012-13 season.
Regardless of your basketball allegiance, you have to feel bad for the Clippers.
This off-season was the busiest, and arguably the best, in franchise history for the other team in Los Angeles. They constructed one of the strongest second units in the NBA, re-signed the face of the franchise and even "stole" a player in Grant Hill that the Lakers wanted, right out from under their noses. To say this was a great off-season for the Clippers would be understating it.
Yet, all anyone can talk about is the Lakers.
It's like that Pepsi commercial where the baby is doing calisthenics while his parents rave about the new soda while ignoring the twisting and turning infant. The Clippers are that baby. The Clippers have always been that baby. Sure, for decades they were the version of the baby that was just drooling and pooping and basically doing things that only a parent, or the die-hard Clipper fan, could appreciate. It's impossible to deny now however that this baby is doing things that would make Gabby Douglas proud!
Yet, no one is paying attention.
All anyone is talking about in L.A. is about the new center the Lakers acquired. Or maybe the conversation will be about the new point guard. If not those two subjects then everyone will want to discuss Kareem getting a statue or Jamaal Wilkes and Shaq getting their numbers retired. Any one of those Lakers' stories overshadows anything coming out of Clipper Nation.
Yet, the Clippers have the better bench.
So, since the hot topics all revolve around the Lakers, lets talk about them. Their center, Dwight Howard, is a stud and no doubt will put up numbers equal to or better than their old center, Andrew Bynum, did. That is, of course, when he is cleared to play which as of right now is a great unknown.
Their new point guard, Steve Nash, is actually older than the one they traded away, Derek Fisher, in part because he was too old. I'm sure that logic makes sense to someone, somewhere. So, to recap the Lakers have a new starting center with numbers similar to their old starting center who won't start for some time and a new starting point guard who was born during the Nixon administration!
Yet, the Lakers are the unanimous choice to win the Pacific and seriously challenge for the Western Conference and Finals titles.
I may be crazy, and I'm sure you will tell me if you agree, but I think there is something to be said for consistency. The Clippers return the same starting five they started with last year, assuming Chauncey Billups makes it back from rehabbing his Achilles injury.
I think there is something to be said for superstars, the Clippers have two young ones in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
I think there is something to be said for a deep bench, the Clippers have one of the best in the Association.
I think there is something to be said for flying under the radar, the Clippers, thanks to the Lakers hoopla, are flying low and ready to shock people.
Yet, all anyone continues to talk about is the Lakers.
Sure, I may be crazy, but I'm willing to go out on a limb few have ventured out on and proclaim from my precarious perch that the Clippers will have a better season this year than the Lakers. That consistency will win over uncertainty; that two young, healthy superstars (Griffin and Paul) will trump two (Kobe Bryant and Howard) with age and injury issues; that a better bench will matter over an 82-game regular season.
Finally, I will proclaim that the "flying under the radar" Clippers will win the Pacific this year for the first time in franchise history and go further in the playoffs than the Lakers. Of course, I might be crazy.
Yet, I doubt it.