The Los Angeles Clippers ‘Don’t Belong’ in Staples Center, According to a Former NBA Champion

Some sports rivalries are somewhat unnatural geographically. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers would have no reason to hate each other if it weren’t for each franchise’s success; the cities they play in are nowhere near each other. The Dallas Cowboys also wouldn’t have rivalries with the Washington Football Team, New York Giants, or Philadelphia Eagles if it weren’t for them all playing in the same division. 

However, one rivalry that makes perfect sense geographically is the one between the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. They haven’t had the same degree of success, of course, but both teams are located in Los Angeles, so each franchise wants to, naturally, be “LA’s team.”

Recently, an NBA champion and former Lakers player reignited this rivalry. Despite the Lakers no longer being in the 2021 playoffs, the champ had a lot to say. That former Laker was Robert Horry.

Robert Horry won three championships with the Lakers

Horry was the ultimate champion during his NBA career. After going to the Houston Rockets in the 1992 NBA draft, Horry won two titles with them in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

In 1996-97, though, Horry started playing for the Lakers and helped them win championships as well. LA won three consecutive titles from 1999-2000 to 2001-02 with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The championships were the franchise’s 12th, 13th, and 14th out of what is now 17 total.

Horry didn’t stop winning titles in LA, though. He then began playing for the San Antonio Spurs in 2003-04 and won two more with them in 2004-05 and 2006-07, making him a seven-time NBA champion in his career.

After last playing in 2007-08, Horry finished his career averaging 7.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.0 steal overall.

The former Lakers player said the Clippers ‘don’t belong’ in Staples Center

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard during the 2021 playoffs.
Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 1 of the Western Conference first round on May 22, 2021. | Harry How/Getty Images

What makes the rivalry between the Lakers and Clippers interesting is that they don’t just share the same hometown, but they share the same home: Staples Center.

Horry recently appeared on The Big Podcast with Shaq and discussed — with the Lakers out of the playoffs — whether he’s rooting for the Clippers.

His answer? “Hell no.”

“The only reason I would root for the Clippers is because of Ty Lue,” Horry said, per Sports Illustrated. “You know, Ty Lue won a championship with us in LA but that’s the only reason.”

He then took it a step further.

“You cannot have the Clippers try to put up a damn banner in Staples Center,” he added, per SI. “They don’t belong in Staples. They can get up out of here with a hurry.”

Horry is probably speaking for all Lakers fans when saying that. Despite the two teams never playing each other in the playoffs, according to SI, the fanbases still hate each other with a burning passion and would rather not share the same home arena with the other.

When looking at both team’s track records, though, Horry has a point.

The Lakers-Clippers rivalry is one-sided

Adding a Clippers banner to Staples Center would look like a stain on everything the Lakers have accomplished, as the franchises are the complete opposite in terms of success.

The Lake Show has won 17 NBA championships, which is tied with the Boston Celtics for the most in NBA history, and has had some of the greatest players of all time don the team’s purple and gold. Among the Lakers greats are Kobe Bryant, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor, LeBron James, and many more. There’s so much history there that it’s hard to even compare the Clippers to the Lakers.

The Clippers haven’t won one championship and have actually made the playoffs fewer times than the number of Lakers’ titles, only making the postseason 16 times. The franchise only reached the playoffs four times from 1976-77 through 2010-11. The Clippers have also never played in the NBA Finals, and not even the Western Conference Finals, only making it to the conference semifinals.

And this is a rivalry?

Well, based on the city and their home arena, yes. If it were just based on success like the Celtics and Lakers, though, it wouldn’t be. The Lakers don’t have a rivalry with the Charlotte Hornets, do they?

Horry’s comments about the Clippers may have been harsh, but he has a point. The Lakers are Clippers aren’t even in the same stratosphere.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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