Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What Kobe Won't Tweet: Los Angeles Is Becoming a Clippers Town

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What Kobe Won't Tweet: Los Angeles Is Becoming a Clippers Town

Article excerpt

"This isn't supposed to happen, it's really throwing me off mentally," says Los Angeles native Peter Vineland, a self-described "basketball nut" sipping a beverage at Starbucks in Sherman Oaks. "I'm sorry for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers but surprisingly happy for the Clippers."

Vineland is talking about the reversal of fortunes that is playing out here at the start of the National Basketball Association playoffs. For years, it has been the Los Angeles Lakers dominating the postseason - winning 11 championships since 1972, including a three-peat from 2001-03. And the Los Angeles Clippers have usually been in the cellar, the team that Lakers fans such as Vineland didn't ever watch on purpose and didn't even want even to admit was from the same city.

This year, the Lakers barely made it to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed and scored a piddling 79 points in losing the first game of their first-round series to the San Antonio Spurs. Meanwhile, the Clippers are leading their playoff series with the Memphis Grizzlies, 2-0, and star guard Chris Paul made the game-winning shot Tuesday night with 0.1 seconds remaining, bringing a bit of Laker "Showtime" to the Clip Joint.

As with the Roman Empire or a Hollywood starlet, sports runs through cycles in which those on the bottom rise to the top and those on the top fall. This is that time for Los Angeles.

"The Lakers have been the shining star for decades, and the Clippers almost the laughing stock of the league," says Dan Lebowitz, president of the Center for the Study of Sports in Society at Northeastern University. "Now the Clippers are the darlings of the league, the Cinderella team to watch. This is going to be good."

Lakers Superstar Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon in a recent game and will be out for the remainder of the season at least - and the Lakers have yet to figure out how to make up for Bryant's 27.3- point-per-game average.

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"There's one big, blistering question facing the Lakers," writes Los Angeles Times sportswriter Mike Bresnahan, looking ahead to Wednesday's second playoff game against the Spurs. …

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