By Jovani Gama |Sports Editor|
If last season’s battle for Los Angeles was any indication as to what this year is going to look like, then basketball fans should be licking their chops in anticipation.
After a few blockbuster acquisitions during the offseason that involved the arrival of Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison, the Lakers enter the season with, not only what everyone not living in South Beach considers to be the best and most fearsome starting lineup in the league, but with a bolstered and revamped bench as well.
33 All-Star Game appearances, four Defensive Player of the Year Awards, and three Most Valuable Player Awards comprise said starting lineup, while Jamison and Meek’s scoring abilities provide a nice one-two-punch coming off the bench.
Though it may appear as if the Lakers are a lock for, not only winning their division, but, at the very least, making an unprecedented 31th appearance in the NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Clippers will definitely pose a tough, tumultuous hill that the Lakers must try to climb over.
With a starting lineup anchored by star point-guard Chris Paul and held firmly together by the high-flying tandem of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers posses one of the most explosive, yet structured offensive lineups in the league.
It is not just the starting lineup that has most teams nervously checking their calendars to see when the Clippers come into town, however, but a frighteningly talented bench as well.
It is made up of former sixth men of the year, Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom, the skilled up-and-coming point-guard, Eric Bledsoe, an energetic duo of centers in Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins, and the seasoned veteran and defensive specialist, Grant Hill.
That’s right; I did say that this was the Clippers’ bench, and no, it was not a mistake on my behalf. With a starting lineup that is better than most, and a bench that on any given night can be better than their starting lineup, the Clippers have a unique blend of experience and youth, and are poised to take the NBA by storm.
With age being a lingering, irreversible ailment in that Lakers locker room, the Clippers seem to have the energy, speed, and youth necessary to dethrone the Pacific Division champs.
Seems unlikely, doesn’t it? After all, the vaunted Lakers have won 23 division titles, including the last five, while their locker room rivals have won a woeful 0.
The Clippers have been living in the Lakers’ shadow for as long as both teams have shared the same arena, with the Clippers often times being regarded as the younger brother.
It appears however, as if the younger brother has finally grown up and, while still younger, finally ready to take on their older sibling for the rights to the house.
Staples Center will be as hectic as it has ever been with its hockey team defending the Stanley Cup title for the first time, and two teams and fan bases colliding for the keys of not only its establishment, but of the city that houses it as well.
Home to two of the most talented teams in the league, the city of Los Angeles is in for a treat, as a fierce rivalry will see them both fighting for bragging rights, playoff positioning, and the heart of a city spoiled by champions.