Monday, August 18, 2014

Donald Sterling's Gone and a New Era Begins

The Clippers are hosting their Fan Fest today and seeing the images of celebration along the birth of the Steve Ballmer era has left me feeling a bit confused. Not that I'm not pleased Donald Sterling is finally removed from the NBA but because the team is going to have a change in identity.

I've grown up with the Clippers as the junior varsity team. They've had a year or two of success but it was never sustained. Even with this 3-year run they've been on, I had a feeling Sterling would find a way to screw it up because he always has. Whether it was by being cheap to pay quality coaches, free agents or running his mouth, he's been a poison to ruin any momentum.

Now that he's gone, I've wondered if the Clippers' new identity means that their old legacy isn't coming back and what that means longterm. I wrote about that last week over at Bro Jackson but I think to explain my confusion more, I can compare it to USC and UCLA.*

USC runs college football here. Even when I grew up and UCLA had an eight-game win streak from 1991-98, the Trojans were still top dog. UCLA had a run from 1997-98 when they won 20 games in a row and had a chance at the first BCS championship game but USC quickly regained control and then in 2001 when Pete Carroll came, it was a wrap.

UCLA finally has some momentum from the last two years. They've won more games than USC and were ranked higher than them last year. Now they have preseason national title momentum. However, despite beating USC twice, UCLA's juice is always threatened because USC still has that dominance here. They'll still recruit kids because of their name and they'll still be the face of college football.

Basically, the Bruins run the city now but the war for LA is far from theirs and will take years. USC fans don't feel totally threatened yet even though they know they won't be kicking UCLA around easily. That's probably how Lakers feel except the future isn't as bright yet as it is with USC's incoming freshman class.

*I could compare it also to the Angels and Dodgers because the Angels have captured the SoCal landscape the last decade but regardless of what the name says, they are not a Los Angeles team.

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