Rivers: Clippers-Lakers isn't rivalry
LOS ANGELES -- Despite playing in the same city, sharing the same arena and practicing a few miles apart from each other, Doc Rivers doesn't consider the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers to be a rivalry.
"The Lakers have been pretty dominant," the Clippers coach said. "We've won as of late. It's going to take us a lot more to call it a rivalry, honestly. We have to do a lot more stuff and then we can call it a rivalry. I don't think we've done enough yet."
[The Lakers] have won a lot in the playoffs. They can say that. We can't. It's tough for me. I got to give them that respect. That's the respect we have to earn. They've already earned that through history. We haven't. That's something we have to earn.” -- Doc Rivers, on the Clippers-Lakers "rivalry"
Rivers drew the ire of Lakers fans before Tuesday's regular-season opener by deciding to cover the Lakers' championship banners and retired jerseys during Clippers' home games. Rivers said it wasn't meant to disrespect the Lakers. If anything, the respect he has for the Lakers is a reason he doesn't believe the Clippers and Lakers are rivals yet.
"[We have to] have won a lot in the playoffs," Rivers said. "They can say that. We can't. It's tough for me. I got to give them that respect. That's the respect we have to earn. They've already earned that through history. We haven't. That's something we have to earn."
Chris Paul came to the Clippers three years ago after NBA commissioner David Stern blocked an earlier move to the Lakers citing "basketball reasons." The move was viewed by some as the beginning of the Lakers-Clippers rivalry, but not for Paul.
"I remember when I first got here everybody was saying how is it a rivalry if only one team ever wins," Paul said. "[Byron] Scott used to tell me rivalries form when you play teams in the playoffs and we haven't played them in the playoffs."
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan agreed that rivalries are built in the playoffs and doesn't think the Lakers are the Clippers' rivals.
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"I don't think so. I don't think it will ever be a rivalry," Jordan said. "I would say Memphis more than the Lakers. I went to Texas A&M, and Texas wasn't our rival. They were Oklahoma's rival. I hated Texas but that wasn't my rival. I hate every other team in the league, but they're not my rival. If anybody, I would say Memphis. ... People are going to hype this game to be more than what it is, but it's just Game 1 and a Western Conference team that we have to beat."
Chris Kaman, who spent eight seasons with the Clippers but now plays for the Lakers, agrees with Rivers that there's a ways to go.
"It's changed over the last 10 years since I've been in the league," said Kaman, who was drafted by the Clippers in 2003. "At the start there (with the Clippers), we practiced at a community college in the hood. It's come a long ways. I respect what they're doing and what they've done.
"Still, there's nothing like the Lakers. I mean, you look up here with all the championships, they're never going to have that. It's never going to happen. I don't see it."
Paul said the game is important to the Clippers because they're in the same division as the Lakers, not so much because they're in the same city and share the same arena.
"It's big for the city," Paul said. "It's a division game for us. We're in each other's backyards. We need the win really bad and I'm sure they want it, too."
Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com contributed to this report.
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