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Clippers looking to dethrone Lakers in L.A.

Ever since Magic Johnson arrived in Hollywood and started the Showtime phenomenon of the 1980s followed by the dominance of Shaq and Kobe, the Los Angeles Lakers have dominated the sports landscape in L.A.

All the championships, the Hall of Fame players and charismatic coaches, the A-list celebrities seated at courtside — it’s been an embarrassment of riches for the Purple and Gold.

But in just the past few years the Lakers are getting serious basketball competition from none other than the Los Angeles Clippers. Yes, that’s right, the Clippers!

With the recent arrival of superstars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and led by one of the best coaches in the business in Doc Rivers, the Clippers might be the new glamour team in Hollywood. After finishing with a franchise-best 57 wins last season, the Clippers now have their sights set on a NBA championship.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are suffering through a very rare losing season. Through 43 games the Lakers have accumulated just 12 wins. Kobe Bryant is on the last legs of his long and illustrious career, and for the first time in many years the future looks uncertain for Laker fans.

It’s a future that is soon to be without one of the best players in NBA history. With his body bruised and beaten up after 19 years with the Lakers, Bryant is almost certain to call it quits within the next couple years. His hefty contract expires in 2016 but Bryant — who has already missed many games this season — might not make it beyond this year.

So who will the Lakers depend on for marketability? Swaggy P? So far, Nick Young has mostly been over-hyped and unreliable.

The other players — notably Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill, and Jeremy Lim — are nondescript. So it looks like a rebuilding time for the Purple and Gold.

But will Laker fans have the patience? Or will many of them switch their allegiances to the much more competitive and highly-entertaining Clippers? After all, Hollywood is all about entertainment and winning and right now “Lob City” is far more fun to watch than the lethargic Lakers.

New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has infused a great deal of enthusiasm into his franchise, while the Lakers haven’t been the same since the passing of their late, great beloved boss Jerry Buss.

So this appears to be two vastly different L.A. stories. The Clippers are headed up and ready to take a serious run at the NBA title, while the Lakers are on the way down and just looking to get wins anytime they can.

Despite the Laker struggles, the team still has a loyal fan base built up over many years of championship memories. And while the Lakers are near the bottom of the league standings, they continue to draw near-sellouts. But how many more losing seasons will it take before attendance starts really dropping off at Laker games?

The Clippers probably don’t have to worry about drawing fans. With Griffin and Paul both under 30 years old and a talented roster around them, this could be a title-contending squad for years to come.

Both the Clippers and Lakers play home games at Staples Center in the trendy L.A. Live area of downtown Los Angeles.

Yet it’s the Clippers, not the Lakers, who might be the main hoops show in town. And that’s something Magic Johnson and company probably never thought they would live through.

Tags: , in Sports
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