The Los Angeles Clippers have always stacked themselves up against the Los Angeles Lakers. Anytime the Clippers have had any kind of success, the same old “changing of the guard” narrative makes an appearance. It’s clockwork.
So of course the Clippers swindling the Lakers is going to bring those same debates back up, and Ivica Zubac told Mirjam Swanson of the O.C. Register that he’s had a few such conversations with fans since being traded by the Lakers:
“A bunch of fans have come up to me and they say, ‘Why did we trade you? The Lakers front office did the biggest mistake,’” Zubac said Tuesday before the Clippers practiced at their training facility in Playa Vista. “Everyone’s like, ‘We miss you.’ And I always say, ‘I’m on a better team now. You don’t have to be sad for me.’ And I always make sure to tell them, ‘Check our game out if you want to see good basketball.’
“I always make sure to tell them, ‘If you want to watch playoff basketball, we’re at Staples,’” he added. “So it’s up to them, but I’m always gonna keep trying. People got this bad image about Clippers, like Clippers did something bad. But the thing is, the Clippers never did something bad, they’re just another team in L.A.”
The Clippers (as they should) are putting a full-court press to show how great a place they’re in right now, especially when compared to big brother. Sure, it was the Lakers who landed LeBron James last summer. Yes, they have the space for another superstar in a couple months. But it’ll be the Clippers who will be competing during the postseason while James, Magic Johnson and the Lakers watch from home.
“In my two and a half years with the Lakers, I didn’t win much games,” Zubac said. “So winning all these games, it feels great. It got me looking differently at basketball. I don’t care about personal stats or whatever, winning is the most important thing.”
For what it’s worth, Zubac did have a message after Swanson’s article came out.
Media always trying to take everything out of context ♂️... never said anything bad about Lakers. Just wanted everyone to know that we’re playing good basketball and that there’s nothing wrong with checking out our games too. Peace ✌— Ivica Zubac (@ivicazubac) April 2, 2019
So while maybe these shouldn’t be seen as shots at the Lakers, what he said sort of speaks for itself, and at the very least Zubac is pretty happy in his new situation.
But even while the Clippers do all this work to make sure everyone knows how great things are, they’ll still have to find enough success to where they can be seen as a top-flight organization on their own, without the aid of comparison to the disaster that the Lakers were this season.
If the Clippers can take this the next step, and use all these boasts about their incredible culture to lure a star free agent this summer, then we can start having some conversations. But only then will those narratives on who owns Los Angeles have a chance at even starting to shift.