It appears the Staples Center rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers has gotten the best of Jerry West. The long-time Lakers player and executive is currently with the Clippers in a front-office role. While he joins owner Steve Ballmer and the rest of the organization in competing with the team’s next-door neighbor for top players, his recent comments were a bit eye-opening.
After a playing career with the Lakers which ran from 1960 to 1974 followed by a stretch as a coach with the team from 1976-79, West’s current job has the competitive juices flowing. He recently joined ESPN’s ‘The Jump’ and spoke about the Clippers organization while heaping praise to a level that will surely make any Lakers fan feel the shade.
“Steve Ballmer has really put together an unbelievable and terrific organization. He spared no expense. It’s a really fun place to be, it’s not ego-driven at all. He’s got an awful lot of basketball people over there. I’m just happy to be such a small part of it. He’s willing to spend on players, he’s willing to spend on personnel within the front office. I’ve never been around any organization that is better than this one, that’s for sure.”
Considering West spent nearly 20 years with the Lakers and has only been with the Clippers since 2017, the above statement is noteworthy. Regardless, his comment that he’s “never been around any organization that is better than this one [Clippers],” has to be a tough blow for fans of the purple and gold to take.
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Lakers Battle for Kawhi Leonard With Clippers
As we saw this offseason, the two Los Angeles-based teams were in the mix for Kawhi Leonard throughout the early stages of free agency. They were also joined by Leonard’s former team in the Toronto Raptors. It was believed for quite a while that the Lakers and Raptors were the frontrunners, but the Clippers pulled off a stunning move to sign him.
Not only did the Clippers land Leonard, but they acquired Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder in a blockbuster trade. The deal, which sent five first-round picks, two pick swaps, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari to the Thunder, was a big part in persuading Leonard to join the Clippers.
Jerry West & Steve Ballmer Ignite Los Angeles Rivalry
If there wasn’t quite enough drama in the rivalry between the Lakers and Clippers, the two teams have now become legitimate title contenders ahead of the 2019-20 season. With the Clippers’ additions of Leonard and George, along with other strong pieces such as Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell, Ballmer’s team will enter the year among the favorites.
On the other end of the battle for Staples Center, the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis via trade and proceeded to build a strong core through free agency. This group includes DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Avery Bradley and multiple players who were re-signed, such as Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Beyond that, the Lakers were also able to keep Kyle Kuzma out of the trade for Davis.