“You’d rather look good and lose, than look bad and win.”
– Billy Hoyle, White Men Can’t Jump
Watching the Battle of L.A. on Wednesday night, I couldn’t help recall the classic line from Woody Harrelson’s character to Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes) about his showboating brand of basketball on the nearby Baldwin Village blacktop courts.
Sure, the Clippers are the younger, more exciting team in town, according to social mediasphere, giving “Lob” Angeles twice as much SportsCenter run and retweets as it normally would this time of year.
But when it comes down to deciding who the best team in L.A. really is, you have to go with the veteran squad that wins the big games on the big stage. Not the team with the highest flyers. More Top 10 nominees and YouTube moments are great for marketing purposes, but they don’t win ballgames.
On Wednesday, the better team was the Los Angeles Lakers, rolling into Staples with a chip on their shoulders and showing some long-lost grit in a 96-91 win over the upstart Clippers. Metta World Peace looked like crazy-ol’ Ron Artest again. Pau Gasol was scrapping like it was the 2009 NBA Finals.
The Lakers are again, but with Kobe Bryant, Gasol and Derek Fisher, they have more rings and they have more big-game experience than their Los Angeles brethren.
Blake Griffin might be able to leap over cars. DeAndre Jordan might be able to swat shots above the square (see the screenshot from Thursday’s win over the Grizzlies), but until they win the big one the Clippers are still the Clippers – a team that’s won just one playoff series in Los Angeles.
The Lakers? They’ve won 11 championships, 22 division titles and 25 conference titles since moving to L.A.
So for now, the Lakers wear the crown in this town. That might change come playoff time, but for now, the Clippers are looking a lot better than they really are.