So Doc Rivers didn’t waste all that much time adding his own wrinkle to the Lakers/Clippers rivalry*, deciding to cover up the Lakers’ extensive championship history with giant pictures of his best players** during home games for the LAC.
Reaction among Lakers fans has been a predictable and completely appropriate mixture of outrage and mocking. Really, the jokes write themselves, for those who are inclined. And should the Clippers pull off a significant mid-season trade, they might have to engage in some rapid redecorating.
I’m sure Doc understands all that. He knows he and his team will get made fun of, that they’ll be called some combination of petty, small, and disrespectful. He just doesn’t care, and nor should he. It’s not like the Clippers are pulling some collegiate style prank where they paint LAL’s banners red, white, and blue, or replace “West,” “Abdul-Jabbar,” and “Johnson” with “Korolev,” “Olowokandi,” and “Kimble.” Nothing is damaged or defaced, just covered up. Staples Center is no more the Lakers arena than the Clippers. Particularly when the Lakers aren’t even in the building. The Clippers have no obligation to honor purple and gold history during their home games.
Doc’s job is to do what he thinks is best for his franchise, including grand symbolic gestures he hopes will impact the culture. The LAC have for too long allowed themselves to be defined by comparisons to the Lakers, whether in the standings or the rafters. Covering all the banners won’t suddenly make people forget how incredibly lame Clippers history is in comparison to LA’s crown jewel franchise, but at the very least it means the LAC won’t literally have it hanging over them during home games. Home becomes that much homier. It might feel silly or desperate to Lakers fans, but they’re not the target demographic.
Honestly, the Clippers have needed to do something like this for a while. Good for Doc for making a change. Sometimes symbols make a difference.
*If you believe the history between the squads is too lopsided to call it a rivalry, pick your own word. It’s obviously something.
**We’re left to wonder if Ryan Hollins thinks he got screwed.