With Blake Griffin and Chris Paul leading the way, hopes are high for the Clippers
It was a tale of two offseasons for the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers. While Chris Paul joined Blake Griffin in what promises to be one of the most electric duos in the NBA, the Lakers traded away Lamar Odom and failed in bids to acquire either Paul and/or Dwight Howard.
Given the sudden relevance of the Clippers and the notion that the Lakers could be slipping, it’s worth asking if the Clippers – often perceived to be “the other team in L.A.” – have completely closed the gap between themselves and their Staples Center co-tenants.
Los Angeles has been a two-team NBA city for 27 seasons. Since the Clippers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles prior to the 1984-85 season, they have had a better record than the Lakers just four times. Might 2011-12 be the fifth?
Here are some other anticipated seasons by often overshadowed “other" teams:
“Other” team: New York Mets
Overshadowed by: New York Yankees
Anticipated Season: 2005
Prior the 2005 season, the Mets went on a free agent splurge session by spending over $170 million dollars for Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. The Mets were full of promise - Jose Reyes and David Wright were on the upswing, Mike Piazza was still an All-Star and Willie Randolph was brought in to replace Art Howe. The Mets failed to live up to the hype however, winning 83 games and missing the playoffs (although they did make it to the NLCS the following season).
“Other” team: Manchester City
Overshadowed by: Manchester United
Anticipated season: 2009-10
Forever in the shadow of Manchester United, Man City began to emerge as a major player in the summer of 2008 when they acquired Brazilian striker Robinho from Real Madrid for a $50.5 million transfer fee, which at the time was the fourth-most expensive transfer of all-time. As it turns out, they were just getting warmed up. The next summer they took spending to an unprecedented level, parting with more than $150 million dollars to bring in Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure among others. City went on to finish fifth in 2009-10, narrowly missing out on qualifying for the UEFA Champions League (and finishing behind Manchester United).
“Other” team: USC men’s basketball
Overshadowed by: UCLA
Anticipated season: 2000-01
Long in the shadow of UCLA, USC entered the 2000-01 season with high hopes. The Trojans were ranked 23rd in the preseason AP Poll, the first time since 1978-79 that they entered a season ranked in the preseason. Although USC lost both of its games against UCLA, it did manage to make it deeper into the NCAA Tournament. Both teams lost to eventual national champion Duke, with UCLA falling in the Sweet 16 and USC bowing out in the Elite 8.