Before the NBA season was indefinitely suspended in March, basketball fans were treated to a preview of a potential Western Conference Finals matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. The Lakers won that game 112-103, but the Clippers won the two previous matchups, setting both teams up for a grand regular season finale on April 9, and a seven-game playoff series shortly after that.
The hope is that the Lakers and Clippers will still see each other in the playoffs this year, and in an interview with Ernie Johnson on NBA TV, basketball legend Jerry West — who has ties to the Lakers as both a player and an executive, and currently works for the Clippers as a consultant — talked about what it would mean for the NBA if the two L.A. teams met in the Western Conference Finals:
“We were ascending, and now, when are we going to get back? When are we going to get back? And then the Lakers across town — this would have been an incredible thing for basketball. If someway, somehow, these two teams could have played in a Western Conference Final. I think you would have seen record numbers on TNT, I think the viewership would have been obviously biased to the Lakers — which is great! It’s just horrible to sit here and not have something to root for, or me anticipating to see Milwaukee in the East or the other good teams over there.”
It’s hard to call the Lakers and Clippers rivals because, since both teams have been in Los Angeles, they’ve never been good at the same time. Sure, there have been years where they’ve both made the playoffs and been competitive, but they’ve never been as evenly matched as they are now. Additionally, the Lakers and Clippers have never played each other in the postseason, so even a No. 1 vs. No. 8 seed matchup between the two L.A. teams would be historic.
Sure, a Lakers-Clippers series may not have the years of history that a Lakers-Celtics series has, but between the LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard storyline, the Morris twin rivalry and the team’s shared arena, the battle for Los Angeles has the potential to be an all-time NBA classic.