Steve Ballmer: Clippers Forming Own 'Identity' in LA Apart from Lakers with New Arena

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 17, 2021

From left, Los Angeles Clippers team chairman Steve Ballmer introduces Paul George and Kawhi Leonard at a press conference at the Green Meadows Recreation Center in Los Angeles, Wednesday, July 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

With their eventual move to Intuit Dome, the Los Angeles Clippers are looking to get out of the shadow of their inner-city rivals.

"We needed to say, 'We're our own guys. We don't play in the same place as the other guys. We're going to have our own identity,'" team governor Steve Ballmer told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

The Clippers have shared Staples Center with the Los Angeles Lakers since the venue opened in 1999.

Ballmer acknowledged the Clippers' prolonged futility meant the Lakers far outpaced them in terms of attention and stature within the L.A. sports ecosystem. The dynamic has changed with the franchise becoming a steady playoff contender with championship ambitions.

"We're good now, and we're going to be good year in and year out," Ballmer said. "We're going to build our own building, more of our own identity, more of our own personality. And I think some of the fans on the other side, if you will, it's like, 'What? You dare to question our supremacy?' No, we do."

To that end, the Clippers announced the construction of their new home arena, which is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2024-25 NBA season. The team broke ground on the arena Friday.

LA Clippers @LAClippers

Home is LA. Home is the <a href="https://twitter.com/IntuitDome?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@IntuitDome</a>. <a href="https://t.co/Lna4LlC9eY">pic.twitter.com/Lna4LlC9eY</a>

As much progress as the Clippers have made since the dawn of the "Lob City" squads, they were never going to make Staples Center their own.

In a telling moment, then-Clippers head coach Doc Rivers caused a bit of a stir in 2013 when he pushed to have banners celebrating the Lakers' achievements covered with posters of Clippers players during Clippers home games.

The opening of Staples Center coincided with the start of the Lakers' three-peat. Because of that, it will forever be synonymous with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Phil Jackson. O'Neal has a statue outside of the arena already.

In terms of historic success, the Clippers will probably never surpass the Lakers, but Intuit Dome should undoubtedly help them continue to carve out their own place in the City of Angels.