Jared Dudley has been all over the NBA, having played for six teams before agreeing to sign with the Lakers for the upcoming season. For him, the opportunity to play for a championship in Los Angeles was the deciding factor in joining the Lakers.
He could have played in a similar situation with the Clippers, but Dudley knows what the Lakers mean to Los Angeles. Dudley discussed the special draw of the Lakers, and how that might factor into Kawhi Leonard’s free agency — before Leonard chose to join the Clippers, it should be noted — with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
“When you can come to California, it’s different. And you have good California teams. You know, the Clippers were good last year. They made the playoffs after trading Tobias [Harris]. And you have the Lakers who just added Anthony Davis. Is it comfort, is it legacy, is it family? It’s a tough decision.
“But I know one thing: This has always been a Laker town. I’ve played for the Clippers. Great organization. Nothing but respect for Jerry West, Doc Rivers, Hall of Famers and everything. I was with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and we were a three or four seed, and the Lakers didn’t even make the playoffs. And the Lakers were the headline here. That will always happen. It’s just the way it is.”
Again, this conversation took place before Leonard decided to join to the Clippers, so it’s clear that Dudley was still in recruiting mode for Leonard. However, Dudley wasn’t wrong about Leonard prioritizing California and playing in Los Angeles. And having also grown up in Southern California and played for the Clippers, Dudley is well-suited to comment on the differences between Clippers and Lakers fandom in this city.
The Clippers had a prime opportunity to wrest control of Los Angeles during Lob City, when they were perennial contenders while the Lakers were regular lottery-attendees. Even then, the draw of the purple and gold outranked Paul, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. It’s hard to remember now, but that top-two represented some serious star power.
It will be interesting if the Clippers make a larger dent in the city with Leonard and Paul George, but they’re not off to a great start. Historically, the Lakers have a substantial edge in this area, and the Clippers have to fight through years and years of Lakers dominance. Unless the Clippers start putting up multiple banners, the Lakers-Los Angeles love affair is unlikely to change in a meaningful way.