With the arrival of super-rookie Blake Griffin on the scene in Los Angeles, the Clippers have become a more-than-respectable team.
Although they are still below .500, due to their 1-13 start, they have recently been making leaps and bounds on the basketball court.
With wins against quality teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers, it is fair to say that this team has the potential to be a playoff contender in the very near future.
The consistency of Eric Gordon, resurgence of Baron Davis, and development of DeAndre Jordan have all played a part in the Clippers' success. But the bulk of the credit can be given to none other than Blake Griffin.
Down the Staples Center hallway, Kobe Bryant has his team sitting at second place in the Western Conference.
And although at times the Lakers can seem lethargic and disconnected with NBA reality, it is fair to say that they are in good position to defend their title and close in on the elusive championship "three-peat."
With the appearance of a newly relevant Clippers team and a bona fide superstar in the making, the question begs to be asked,
Who is the King of L.A.?
A superstar veteran who can count himself among the 10 most skilled and accomplished players ever to pick up a basketball. A five-time and currently defending NBA champion who has been an elite force in the league for over a decade and is still going strong.
A skilled, powerful young rookie who has taken the league by storm. His highlight plays and eye-popping box scores have vaulted himself and the Los Angeles Clippers into the national spotlight.
The Blake Show or the Lake Show?
Let's Explore Further...
The first thing a big draw must have is accomplishments in the city he wants to be king of.
One can't be the king of a bustling city like L.A. without having accomplished something major there first.
Kobe Bryant has five NBA championships on his résumé. He is also an NBA MVP and the two-time defending Finals MVP.
He is also famous for scoring outbursts of the kind that have rarely been seen in NBA history.
Kobe is the leading scorer in Lakers history and has a cult-like following in L.A. and throughout the world. He has also played all of his NBA career in Lakers forum blue and gold.
Add all that up and it is easy to see why Kobe has been king for so long.
But here comes Blake Griffin. With his unbelievable highlights, he makes nightly entries to SportsCenter's top 10 plays. And most importantly, he has the Clippers winning.
Of course none of this can touch Kobe's accomplishments, but being a rookie for the ages and making the Clippers relevant (yes, THE CLIPPERS!) has to count for something.
Blake Griffin is well on his way to making a major impact in Los Angeles, but unfortunately he's not quite there yet. A city couldn't ask for more than five championships from any of their star players. And by virtue of that, Kobe has this category locked up.
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The second thing a big draw must have is something called "wow factor."
And both Blake Griffin and Kobe Bryant have it.
Kobe has put on some of the greatest performances ever seen on the hardwood.
Every real NBA fan knows about 62 through three quarters in Dallas. Putting up 61 points at MSG. And the best scoring performance of all time, his 81-point rampage against the Raptors.
His game winners are the stuff of legend. This defines "wow factor."
Recently, though, he has slowed down a bit. His star is falling slightly as time passes. His body has been ravaged by the rigors of almost 15 NBA seasons and time, with a series of minor injuries to his fingers, knees, and other ailments.
Blake Griffin also has the wow factor, and unlike Kobe, his star is definitely on the rise.
Griffin has been making an assault on the NBA's record books with his assortment of historic rookie performances.
If the Clippers can keep winning, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Blake could be the face of the league very soon.
Blake and Kobe both have the wow factor. And while Kobe's is more established, Blake's has recently on a whole other level.
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The third thing a candidate for the biggest draw in Los Angeles must have is relevance on a national scale.
You can't be the king of L.A. if no one outside of California knows you exist.
Obviously, neither of these players has that problem. But still, it must be taken into account.
To be the biggest draw in L.A., your name has to mean something to everyone. People who don't watch the NBA at all have to have at least heard of you.
Kobe is often compared to some of the greatest players of all time. Kobe is famous for his Laker championships, his early feud with Shaq, off-the-court trouble, Nike puppet commercials, etc.
It is often said that Kobe Bryant is the most polarizing figure in all of sports.
Love him or hate him, you know his name.
Blake Griffin has not been afforded the same opportunity to make a name for himself, as it is his rookie season. He has only had a few nationally televised games and is not quite a household name yet.
The upcoming All-Star Weekend should help him become more well known if he's able to destroy the competition at the dunk contest and participate in the All-Star Game.
Kobe wins this one by a landslide. He is one of the most well-known (but not necessarily popular) athletes in the world.
Playing for a franchise like the Lakers doesn't hurt either. Blake has a long way to go until he is a household name all over the world.
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Nothing will endear you to the fans of a franchise and put you in the spotlight like winning. The impact that you have on your team in the win-loss column can change the culture of a whole city.
And that's why it is the fourth "must-have" if you want to be the king.
This is where both shine.
Kobe Bryant is a former league MVP and a two-time Finals MVP. He has had an enormous impact on Los Angeles and the success of the franchise. If nothing else, he is a proven winner.
Without Kobe Bryant, there is no way the Lakers win back-to-back championships.
Blake Griffin has also had an immediate impact on his franchise. The Clippers have a reputation for being a dismal franchise incapable of winning anything.
There is even a long-standing rumor of a Clippers curse. To overcome all that and the pressures of being a No. 1 pick in order to not only perform, but also to perform to historic standards, is a phenomenal accomplishment.
Blake Griffin will be an NBA MVP in the future.
Both have a huge impact on their respective teams. While Bryant has certainly achieved more in the way of accolades, Griffin is overcoming a dysfunctional franchise to become a national sensation.
Kobe shines with the Lakers. Griffin shines despite the Clippers.
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One thing that is sure to get a fanbase behind you is potential.
Potential is like hope. It can keep downtrodden fans' heads high. Once fans see that they might not be where they want to be right now, but that it is very possible in the near future, it will cause them to put you on a pedestal.
Players like Amare Stoudemire and Kevin Durant have energized their current franchises based on the potential that they have for the future. And Blake Griffin has that to the 10th power.
Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, is on the downside of his career. His championship window will be open for a few more years. He is in a great place being the two-time defending champion, but potential for further accomplishment is very small.
It could be said that although he could win one or two more championships, his status is already cemented and his potential is already realized.
Basically, if he wins another championship or two, it's not necessarily going to win him a bunch of new fans. If the first five didn't make you a fan, why would the sixth or seventh?
Blake winning a championship with the Clippers on the other hand, would be a monumental accomplishment sure to garner him much adoration and publicity.
Blake takes this one on the account that he has his whole career ahead of them. He has Clippers fans (and the rest of the NBA) giddy with anticipation of what he will accomplish throughout his NBA career.
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And now...The final verdict,
We've discussed everything that it takes to be the King. The man. The biggest draw in the city.
L.A. has been owned by Kobe Bryant for quite some time. He has outlasted all his peers.
Allen Iverson. Tracy McGrady. Vince Carter. All those he has been compared to over the years have become journeymen. They are mere shadows of their former selves while Bryant has excelled, aged gracefully, and stayed a winner.
He has truly been the King of Los Angeles, and the King of the NBA in general.
Blake Griffin has come on the scene and is posing a threat to the throne with his rejuvenation of the Clippers franchise.
But who comes out on top?
Kobe Bryant ends up with 42 while Blake Griffin ends up with 41 in our King of L.A. tally.
Kobe Bryant is still the King of L.A. He is the biggest draw in Los Angeles.
But with Griffin's rise and Kobe's steady decline, it won't be long before Blake Griffin has Kobe in his rearview mirror as the biggest draw in L.A.