In what may be a sign of things to come, the Clippers travelled to the Staples Center and defeated the home town Lakers easily.
Los Angeles, now known as Lob Angeles, or Lob City, was once a proud town painted exclusively in purple and gold.
Yet the happenings of the past fortnight have left plenty of weather damage and red and blue are starting to appear.
Chris Paul’s failed trade to the Lakers and successful move to the Clippers meant more as a statement than it did as a personnel move. That is saying a lot.
The notoriously terrible franchise that is the Clippers sent a letter bomb to the Lakers, and that was followed up last night in the most eagerly anticipated and watched pre season game of all time.
Whilst both teams call Staples Center home, it is undisputedly the Lakers building. The championships, the hall of famers, the history. All Lakers. Yet would people rather see 33 year old Kobe Bryant and 31 year old Pau Gasol or 26 year old Chris Paul and 23 year old Blake Griffin?
So how big was the Clippers 114-95 win over their big brothers? Well technically it was 19 points, but let’s not get carried away, it is still a pre season game.
However, I think it shows a little more than a pre season game normally would. Paul, Jordan, Griffin, Billups and Butler all outplayed everyone not named Kobe Bryant and that may become a trend. Paul had 17, 9 and 7. Billups had 23. Griffin and Jordan 18 between them. Butler hit two 3s.
Whilst any sane person is not ready to call the Clippers the best team in California, I think we are giving the Lakers too much credit.
They were taken to 6 games by the Hornets in the first round of the playoffs. The Hornets were a mess of the team and Chris Paul single handedly won them those two games. He had no help.
The Lakers were then swept and humiliated by the Dallas Mavericks. Since then they have all gotten a year older, spent an interrupted pre season wondering who will still be on the team and lost their most versatile and arguably most important player and got nothing in return. Literally nothing, a trade exception is like money on a credit card, it does not physically exist.
The Clippers are a year older, which makes them better. They added the Laker killers Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups, along with NBA Champion Caron Butler. It’s not so ridiculous to believe this consolidation of power is not far away.
Regardless of what happens this year, where each team finishes and how they get there, there is no denying this is the greatest challenge the Lakers have faced in their history. Not only do they have another genuine title contender, but they can no longer say with 100% confidence they are the best team in their own building, let alone their own city.