As one of the major media markets in the United States, Los Angeles has long been a coveted location for professional sports teams. Yet unlike other big cities, LA stands out for being the home of not just one, but two National Basketball Association (NBA) franchises—the Lakers and the Clippers.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Los Angeles has two NBA teams largely due to historical circumstances, timing, and ambitious owners determined to bring pro basketball to the lucrative LA market despite existing competition.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the unique stories behind both the Lakers and Clippers and explore the factors that allowed two NBA teams to develop and coexist in the same metro area.
The Establishment of the Lakers in Los Angeles
When it comes to the history of basketball in Los Angeles, one cannot ignore the significant role played by the Lakers. Originally based in Minneapolis, the Lakers franchise was established in 1947 as a part of the National Basketball League (NBL).
However, it was in 1948 that they joined the Basketball Association of America (BAA), the precursor to the NBA as we know it today.
The Lakers’ Move West
In 1960, the Lakers made a bold move by relocating from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. This decision was prompted by various factors, including the desire to tap into the rapidly growing television market in California and the opportunity to compete in a larger and more glamorous city.
The move was not without its challenges, as the team had to overcome financial difficulties and gain the support of the Los Angeles community. Fortunately, the Lakers were able to secure the backing of influential individuals such as Jack Kent Cooke, who would later become the majority owner of the team.
The relocation of the Lakers to Los Angeles marked the beginning of a new era for the franchise. The team embraced the glitz and glamour of the city, becoming synonymous with the Hollywood lifestyle. This move also laid the foundation for the fierce rivalry between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics, as they would go on to dominate the NBA in the years to come.
Immediate Success in LA
Upon their arrival in Los Angeles, the Lakers wasted no time in making their mark on the basketball scene. Led by the legendary Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, the team quickly established themselves as contenders.
In their first season in LA, the Lakers reached the NBA Finals but fell short of winning the championship. However, they would not be denied for long.
In the 1971-1972 season, the Lakers achieved an incredible feat by winning a record-breaking 33 consecutive games, a record that still stands to this day. This remarkable accomplishment catapulted them to the top of the NBA and solidified their status as one of the league’s elite teams.
The Lakers went on to win their first NBA championship in Los Angeles in 1972, defeating the New York Knicks in a thrilling seven-game series.
Since then, the Lakers have continued to be a dominant force in the NBA, capturing numerous championships and producing some of the greatest players in basketball history, including Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant.
For more information on the history of the Lakers and their impact on Los Angeles basketball, you can visit nba.com/lakers.
The Clippers Arrive in Southern California
The arrival of the Los Angeles Clippers in Southern California is a fascinating story that began many years ago. To fully understand their journey, we must first delve into their roots as the Buffalo Braves.
Roots as the Buffalo Braves
The Buffalo Braves were founded in 1970 as an expansion team in the NBA. They played their home games in Buffalo, New York, and quickly gained a loyal fan base. However, despite their popularity, the team struggled financially and faced numerous challenges.
After just eight seasons, the Braves made the decision to relocate to San Diego, California. This move was driven by the desire for better financial stability and the potential for a larger market. Little did they know that this relocation would eventually lead them to their current home in Los Angeles.
Relocation to San Diego
Upon their arrival in San Diego in 1978, the team underwent a rebranding process and became known as the San Diego Clippers. Despite their efforts to establish themselves in their new home, the Clippers still faced financial difficulties and struggled to achieve success on the court.
During their time in San Diego, the team was known for its exciting style of play, led by standout players like Bill Walton and World B. Free. However, their on-court success did not translate into financial stability, and the team continued to face challenges both on and off the court.
Heading North to LA
In 1984, the Clippers made another significant move, this time to Los Angeles. The team hoped that a change in location would bring renewed energy and support from fans. While their early years in Los Angeles were still marked by struggles, the team slowly began to build a stronger foundation.
Over the years, the Clippers have transformed from a struggling franchise into a competitive force in the NBA. With the acquisition of star players like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the team has become a perennial playoff contender.
Today, the Los Angeles Clippers are widely recognized as one of the top teams in the league.
It is truly remarkable to see how the Clippers’ journey has unfolded, from their humble beginnings in Buffalo to their current status as a prominent NBA franchise in Los Angeles. This tale of resilience and perseverance serves as a testament to the power of determination and the ability to overcome adversity.
Coexisting in the LA Market
Los Angeles is a city known for its love of sports, and basketball is no exception. The city’s basketball scene is dominated by two NBA franchises: the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. These two teams have managed to coexist in the highly competitive LA market, each with their own dedicated fan base and unique appeal.
The Built-In Lakers Fan Base
When it comes to basketball in LA, the Lakers are the team that immediately comes to mind for many fans. The Lakers have a rich history and a loyal fan base that has been cultivated over decades. With legendary players like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have consistently been a force to be reckoned with in the NBA.
The Lakers’ success has created a strong fan base that spans generations. From die-hard fans who have been supporting the team since the Showtime era to new fans who have been drawn in by recent championships, the Lakers have a built-in advantage when it comes to fan loyalty.
Two Teams, Two Arenas
One of the key factors that allows the Lakers and Clippers to coexist in LA is the fact that they play in different arenas. The Lakers call the iconic Staples Center home, while the Clippers play their games at the nearby Crypto.com Arena.
Having two separate arenas allows each team to create a distinct atmosphere for their games. The Staples Center is known for its electric atmosphere and has become a symbol of Lakers basketball. On the other hand, Crypto.com Arena offers a more intimate setting for Clippers games, providing fans with a different experience.
Appealing to Different Audiences
While both teams are based in the same city, they have managed to carve out their own niche and appeal to different audiences. The Lakers have traditionally been associated with Hollywood glamour and have attracted celebrity fans from the entertainment industry.
Their success and star-studded roster have made them a popular choice among fans looking for a glitzy and high-profile basketball experience.
The Clippers, on the other hand, have positioned themselves as the underdogs of LA. Despite historically being a less successful team, the Clippers have gained a dedicated fan base who resonates with their scrappy and hardworking mentality.
This has allowed them to attract fans who appreciate a team that is willing to fight against the odds.
Ongoing Rivalry and Competition for Fans
When it comes to the Los Angeles basketball scene, the competition and rivalry between the two NBA franchises, the Lakers and the Clippers, is intense. Both teams have a dedicated fan base and are constantly vying for the attention and support of the city’s basketball enthusiasts.
Sparring for Championships
The Lakers have a rich history of success, with numerous NBA championships under their belt. They have been a dominant force in the league for decades, boasting legendary players like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Kobe Bryant.
The team’s success has garnered them a massive fan base and a strong following both locally and globally.
On the other hand, the Clippers have historically been considered the underdogs of Los Angeles basketball. However, in recent years, the team has undergone a dramatic transformation with the acquisition of star players like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Kawhi Leonard.
This has propelled them into the spotlight and created a new wave of fan support.
The competition for championships between the Lakers and Clippers adds fuel to the fire of their rivalry. Each team strives to outperform the other and claim the title of the best team in Los Angeles.
Notable Head-to-Head Matchups
The head-to-head matchups between the Lakers and Clippers have become highly anticipated events for basketball fans in Los Angeles. These games have the potential to be intense and closely contested, as both teams bring their best to the court.
One of the most memorable matchups between the Lakers and Clippers was on Christmas Day in 2019. The Clippers, led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, defeated the Lakers in a thrilling game that showcased the talent and competitiveness of both teams.
This victory gave the Clippers a psychological edge and further fueled the rivalry between the two franchises.
Another notable matchup was during the 2020 NBA playoffs when the Lakers and Clippers were both considered top contenders for the championship. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the matchup did not materialize, leaving fans eagerly awaiting a future showdown.
Marketing and Identity in a Shared City
With both teams residing in the same city, marketing and establishing a unique identity become crucial for success. The Lakers have the advantage of a long-standing history and a legacy as one of the most successful franchises in NBA history.
The Clippers, on the other hand, have had to work harder to carve out their own identity in a city dominated by the Lakers. They have implemented innovative marketing strategies, such as the “LA Our Way” campaign, which highlights the team’s connection to the city and its fans.
Both franchises have also made efforts to engage with the community and give back to the city of Los Angeles. This not only helps to build a positive image but also fosters a sense of loyalty and support from the fans.
What the Future Holds for the LA Teams
New Arena for the Clippers
One of the most exciting developments for the LA teams is the plan for the Clippers to build their own state-of-the-art arena. Currently, the Clippers share the Staples Center with the Lakers, which has led to a sense of being the “little brother” in the city.
However, with the new arena, the Clippers will have their own home and the opportunity to create a unique identity for their franchise. The new arena is expected to be located in Inglewood, which will bring economic benefits to the area as well.
The project is still in the planning stages, but it is certainly an exciting prospect for Clippers fans and for the city of Los Angeles as a whole.
Continued Pursuit of NBA Titles
Both the Lakers and the Clippers have been successful teams in recent years, with the Lakers winning the NBA championship in 2020 and the Clippers consistently making deep playoff runs. The future looks bright for both teams, with talented rosters and dedicated fan bases.
The Lakers, led by superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the league. The Clippers, on the other hand, have a dynamic duo in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and they are determined to bring a championship to the franchise.
The competition between the two teams will only add to the excitement of the NBA season in Los Angeles.
It’s worth noting that the emergence of two successful NBA teams in Los Angeles is unprecedented. Other cities like New York and Chicago have multiple teams in different sports, but Los Angeles is unique in having two NBA franchises that are both contenders.
This not only creates a fierce rivalry between the Lakers and the Clippers, but it also elevates the city’s status as a basketball mecca.
As the LA teams continue to grow and evolve, one thing is certain: the future of basketball in Los Angeles is bright. With new arenas, talented rosters, and a passionate fan base, the Lakers and the Clippers are poised to continue their success and bring even more excitement to the city.
While Los Angeles is unique in hosting two frequently competitive NBA franchises, the story of how both the Lakers and Clippers came to call LA home reflects the league’s growth into a nationwide brand over decades. For basketball to truly flourish in the second-largest US city, it took two franchises staking their claim and cultivating generations of fans. With two arena tenants, Los Angeles now benefits from double the star power and drama, and a lively basketball rivalry that shows no signs of slowing down.