Before the NBA season was put on hiatus, the rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers was only getting stronger. Doc Rivers has a lot of reasons to hate the Lakers as he’s coached two of the team’s most hated rivals. Also, according to his son Austin Rivers, the veteran head coach could have another reason to hate the purple and gold.
Back in 2019, Rivers was fined for tampering for a comment he made about Kawhi Leonard. Austin Rivers blames Lakers fans for that fine.
“You only got fined, and this is my opinion, due to the public pressure of Lakers fans,” Rivers said on the Go Off podcast. “Because they wanted Kawhi Leonard so bad, and I think their fanbase annoyingly controls so much of the media, to the point where that became a thing.
“Lakers fans think every free agent is coming to them. They think Klay Thompson was coming there, they thought Paul George was coming there, that’s just what it is. Again, it’s a credit to how passionate they are, I say this actually as a compliment to their fanbase and how passionate they are about their Lakers, but I think the pressure, anything you said that had to do with Kawhi would have been viewed as tampering or you trying to lure him in. Because this happened before free agency, when you’re allowed to say anything, right?”
The Lakers do have one of the largest fan bases of any team in all of sports and they can be very passionate. However, it’s a huge stretch to say that they control the media in any way.
Lakers Have Been Hit With Tampering Fines
If the Lakes controlled who did and didn’t get tampering fines, then Magic Johnson wouldn’t have gotten hit with multiple during his time running the team. It became a running joke about how he kept getting tampering fines. It’s pretty clear that if people violate the NBA’s anti-tampering rules, they are going to get fined.
It’s not the Lakers’ fault that Rivers got fined, that’s on him. In the end, it didn’t really matter because the Clippers got Leonard and Paul George.
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Lakers-Clippers Still Favorites in the West?
When the season was suspended, it was pretty clear that the Lakers and Clippers were the two top teams in the Western Conference. Currently, the Lakers are the one seed in the conference and the Clippers are the two. It’s hard to imagine that will change much when/if the season does return.
In fact, the Clippers will probably be helped by the suspension in play. They’ve had trouble staying healthy all season and George’s and Leonard’s injury woes are well documented. The Lakers have been able to stay pretty healthy all season and it’s hard to know how the time off might affect them. What works in both teams’ favor is that they have a lot of veteran leadership. Younger teams might end up getting hurt, but teams with a lot of experience at the top should be able to bounce back.