Right now the Clippers are living in the moment, but moments are fleeting. A quick glance into the rafters at Staples Center will surely snap you back to reality.
16 NBA championship banners hang there, and each one of them belongs to the Lakers.
Los Angeles is a professional-basketball town, but that designation is due solely to the Lakers, and it's doubtful that any true Lakers fan will be swayed by a couple of seasons of Clippers success.
The Clippers do currently hold bragging rights based on their season sweep of the Lakers last year and the potential to add to that streak in 2013-14. But does that really mean anything if their season ends short of an NBA title?
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers are a formidable trio, and the Clippers defense should be improved with Rivers at the helm. But will they be better than San Antonio, Oklahoma City or the Memphis Grizzlies, who eliminated them last year?
Will they really even be that much better than the Lakers?
The Lakers lost Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets, but they added size and decent talent by signing Chris Kaman, and they got younger and more athletic with the additions of Nick Young and Wesley Johnson.
All of a sudden, it's not to hard imagining Mike D'Antoni's offense being effective with Pau Gasol as the centerpiece, and if Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant are relatively healthy, the Lakers could be much better than advertised.
Even a fair-weather Lakers fan will root for a competitive team, and this team will compete.
And besides, when does a couple of good seasons erase a history's worth of misery?
The Clippers may be a better team next season, but they enjoyed the best regular season in the history of their franchise and still lost to the Grizzlies in the postseason, and fired their coach for good measure.
Lakers fans respect the championship culture and understand what it takes to consistently inhabit that environment.
And maybe that's the difference. The Clippers might have a great team, but the Lakers are a great franchise. Fans of a franchise like the Lakers don't jump ship on the whims of a moment.
Of course there will be some people who follow the Lakers but not their history who will get caught up in the Clippers' current surge of momentum and change allegiances.
A true Lakers fan would never do that, especially since things don't exactly look horrible now and will probably look a lot better in the near future.
The Lakers will have plenty of money to throw around next summer and the one after that, and the narrow gap between the teams will draw even closer.
Maybe the real question Clippers fans should ask themselves is whether their team will win one NBA title before the Lakers win their 17th.
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