Los Angeles Clippers head coach Ty Lue called for Los Angeles Lakers fans to support the team after they advanced to the Western Conference Finals on Friday.
According to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk, Lue said: "Team has been starving for success, fanbase doing the same thing. I know the Lakers are out and there's a lot of Lakers fans here, but once the Lakers are gone, if we are not playing the Lakers, you should be cheering for the Clippers. It's all one city."
Although the Lakers and Clippers have both been playing in L.A. since 1984, it can be argued that it didn't become a true rivalry until last season.
The Lakers added Anthony Davis to a team that already included LeBron James, while the Clippers signed both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in free agency, making them the teams to beat in the Western Conference.
While the Clips experienced a disappointing second-round exit last season, the Lakers went all the way to the NBA Finals and won the championship thanks to the play of James and Davis.
The roles have been reversed this season, with the Lakers getting eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round and the Clippers making it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Lue understands the Lakers-Clippers dynamic better than most, as he spent three seasons with the Lakers as a player from 1998-2001 and was an assistant coach with the Clippers from 2013-14 and 2019-20 before taking over as the head coach this season.
Now, Lakers fans are faced with the quandary of rooting for either their in-city rivals or the team that knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs.
Regardless of where Lakers fans' allegiances lie, the Western Conference Finals should be exciting and tightly contested, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the status of two star players.
Suns point guard Chris Paul is in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols, while Leonard missed the final two games of the Clippers' second-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz with a knee injury.
While it remains to be seen where Lakers fans will align, Lue will look to make it two straight years with an L.A. team in the NBA Finals.