More so than at any other point in history, the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers don’t like each other. The Lakers have owned Los Angeles for decades and despite the Clippers being more relevant over the last several years, they still haven’t made big waves in terms of popularity in the city. The fact the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George slighted the Lakers and joined the Clippers has only added to the rivalry.
The two Los Angeles teams are arguably the best teams in the Western Conference and will likely play each other at some point in the playoffs. The Clippers’ penchant for “load management” has come into question and head coach Doc Rivers was questioned about it back in December and decided to throw some shade at the Lakers.
“It’s our philosophy,” Rivers said about load management, per Mark Medina. “I don’t know what [the Lakers’ is]. I think theirs is whatever LeBron says it is.”
It was an obvious dig at the Lakers and LeBron James and only adds to the contentious relationship between the two teams.
Lakers ‘Not Happy’ Over Clippers’ Hypocrisy
Rivers’ comments definitely made it to the Lakers. According to Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers have strong feelings about the comments:
“The irony was not lost on the Lakers, who sources say weren’t happy with the comment, in part, because of the perceived hypocrisy regarding the Clippers’ style with Leonard. In a way, this entire LA landscape is laughable, akin to one franchise telling the other, ‘No, you cater to your MVP candidates more…'”
The Lakers aren’t wrong for seeing hypocrisy with Rivers. Whatever power LeBron has with the Lakers, Kawhi Leonard may have even more with the Clippers. The Lakers have a long history of being relevant and if LeBron left, they’ll eventually figure things out. The Clippers have never won a title and having Kawhi gives them their best shot yet. They’re definitely going to give him whatever he wants.
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Kawhi Reportedly Calling the Shots for the Clippers
Though the Clippers head coach was keen on calling the Lakers out, Buha and Amick pointed out potential hypocrisy:
“But that element didn’t exist with last season’s Clippers, where there was a largely egalitarian ecosystem. It has been an adjustment for multiple players to see two newcomers come in and have such a significant influence on everyone’s schedule.
When two walk-throughs were unexpectedly canceled this season, for example, sources say some of Leonard’s teammates who had been eager to work believed he was the one who made the final call. Clippers coach Doc Rivers denied to The Athletic that this was the case.”
It’s not a secret that Leonard has a specific way of doing things and he’s going to do things his way. The Clippers have little leverage as he is could opt-out after two years and has proven he isn’t very loyal to teams. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with load management – especially considering Leonard’s injury history. However, it’s not a good look for Rivers when he’s calling out the Lakers for bowing to their superstar while he’s reportedly doing the same thing.