NBA Rivalries: Los Angeles Lakers vs Los Angeles Clippers

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The Hallway Series. Battle of LA. 

These are the names given to the Los Angeles rivalry. Both teams are based in the state, and although both came from other locations first, only one is considered the OG.

Lakers Move To Los Angeles

In 1960, the Lakers moved from Minneapolis to LA after Bob Short realized the team needed revamping. They were rapidly losing fan interest as the team failed to play successfully. They had a winning percentage of 0.091%, the worst record in all professional basketball leagues.

In 1957, Short bought the team and shipped them to LA, hoping a new location could bring new luck. He was right. 

At this point, there wasn’t another team in the area. It would be another 24 years before the Clippers arrived. Before the move, the Clippers were known as the Buffalo Braves.

They had their first match-up in 1978, and the Lakers won 124-113. It was a good game, and a great way to start a local team rivalry.

The Clippers didn’t officially move to LA until 1984. The first match saw two LA teams drew in a crowd of 14,991. This was the biggest crowd the Clippers had ever seen at this point. The fans were evenly split, despite the Lakers’ 24-year head start.

The real rivalry didn’t start with this game, though. It started with the flyers for the game.

In an attempt to create a fanbase, the Clippers used their Amateur status to connect to the locals. They called themselves the “People’s Team” and sold tickets at lower prices than the Lakers.

This rattled the Lakers coach Pat Riley. He stated, “I felt we’ve done more the last 20 years to be the ‘People’s Team’”. And he was right. He put Los Angeles on the NBA map, brought money into the city, and created space for people to learn the sport. 

However, after 25 years, they were no longer underdogs, while the Los Angeles Clippers odds were down in the gutter.

Lakers Success While Clippers Slip

As the years went on, the fans made a clear split between the two teams. They much preferred the Lakers, as the winning plays just kept coming.

That was true until 1992, when the Clippers finally had a winning season, and the Lakers slipped down the leaderboard with Magic Johnson’s retirement.

To make matters worse for the Lakers, the Clippers ended their 27-game losing streak against them that season. This was the first win against the Lakers since the big move.

The Lakers wouldn’t allow the Clippers to win again and held them down until 2005 when they finally slipped through another win. 

Between the 80s and the 10s, the Lakers were in control, dominating the sport while letting the Clippers win every once in a while.

Lakers Plumet While Clippers Soar

In 2010, the real rivalry began. The Clippers had the worst winning percentage in their franchise, boasting a measly 0.349. The Lakers, however, had the opposite story, reaching 0.659.

That season the teams were matched up against each other, but in the game, nostrils flared as anger rose. 7 technical fouls were called, as the players refused to play a clean game. The Clippers had something to prove, but the Lakers weren’t having it. 

A rematch was called due to the poor play, and through it, the Lakers won. In an act of passive aggression, Pau Gasol patted Chris Paul on the head, like a child. 

Some news outlets refused to acknowledge the rivalry even then, saying that the Clippers were still a new team and so cannot be evenly paired against the Lakers.

However, in 2012 this changed. The Clippers had a good chance to win the NBA. Lakers fans started to boo the Clippers during warm-ups, and the rivalry began to grow.

In the next 2 seasons, the tables were flipped as the Lakers were falling down the league and the Clippers were on the up. 

Entering 2018, the Clippers had won each of the last 6 series against the Lakers and even secured LeBron James.

As the rivalry grows, we might see the unexpected. The Clippers and the Lakers could meet in the playoffs.

The teams are of equal worth now. Both have players voted MVP, and Man of the Year and have dominated a season.

What Does This Mean Now?

Just 10 years ago, any bets against the rivalry would have one clear outcome. Pick the Lakers, the Clippers will lose. Now, if you look at the FanDuel NBA page, the story is completely different.

The Clippers have won every match-up against their rival since 2012, and they have even won the Finals.

When you make your bets now, your money should be on the LA Clippers.

Final Thoughts

The rivalry between these teams has been a slow burn. Both deny the rivalry existed and then act like angered siblings on the court. Now the players cannot deny the battle for Los Angeles, as the two teams are clearly equally matched.

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