Two NBA teams, two media days, two planets.
You can move them into the same building, put them into business together, practically turn them into roommates, and it's still going to be the same.
Madison and Unger.
Lakers and Clippers.
As different as Shaquille O'Neal and Scott Brooks.
This year was going to be different.
More specifically, bolstered by new Staples Center revenue and good young talent, the Clippers were going to be different.
This year, they were going to close the credibility gap.
Working side by side with big brother, they were going to show the town that they play just as hard, care just as much.
Then, Monday, the doors opened.
Phil Jackson fiddled with his Velcro watch band and smiled.
"This team should be looking to win 60 games," he said. "That's a realistic goal."
Maurice Taylor looked at the floor and frowned.
"I think this is going to be a distraction to the other players," he said. "They're going to be like, 'Are we going to have him all year?' "
Jackson, the Lakers' new most visible presence, embodies his team's attempt to move forward.
Taylor, the Clippers' old most visible presence, embodies his team's insistence on sliding back.
Jackson talked about the Lakers Monday with depth and perceptiveness rarely shown by recent Laker bosses.
Taylor talked about the Clippers with the same old bitterness.
Of course, Jackson was asked about basketball.
Of course, Taylor was not.
Taylor was asked only about the Clippers' failure to grant him a maximum six-year, $70.9-million contract extension that would have kept him in town long enough to maybe turn his team into a winner.
The deal should have been a slam-dunk. Taylor has played only 1 1/2 seasons but he is already the team's floor leader and one of the league's respected young stars.
His numbers didn't yet warrant that sort of money, but this was about more than numbers.
It was about enormous potential, of both Taylor in a Clipper uniform and the Clippers in the Staples Center.
With Donald Sterling desperately in need of a new image to wear into the building, if he wasn't finally going to splurge now, then when?
"This could have been a turning point for the team," said guard Eric Piatkowski. "You don't want anybody looking back at this and saying, 'Yep, that's where the Clippers screwed up.' "
People already are.
Phil Jackson looked over at Shaquille O'Neal and nodded.
"The ball is going into Shaq," he said. "And he's going to have a responsibility to distribute the ball. It's going to be good for the team, and good for him."
Michael Olowokandi looked over at Maurice Taylor and sighed.
"We're going to have to pick up the pieces again, and rebuild again, and there's nothing we can do," he said.
Looking deceivingly stoic in his gray beard and black wire-rimmed glasses, the new Laker coach spoke mostly of change.
Jackson is known for his new-to-the-Lakers triangle offense but he said that only a new defense could win a championship.
"Maybe I could play a little defense from the bench, who knows?" he said.
Anyone who thought the Lakers looked weary in last spring's sweep by San Antonio, take heart.
"Defense is conditioning," he said. "People get beat because they aren't in good enough condition. When you are tired, you can't have a gritty attitude. We will work on conditioning."
And while they use their legs to stop the other guy, they must use their heads to score.
Jackson warned that this triangle offense that won six NBA titles is not available in Cliffs Notes.
"These guys are going to remedial reading for a month," he said. "Then junior high. Then their secondary education. When we get to December, we'll see what we got."
The Clippers don't even know if their best player will be around in December.
Taylor has asked to be traded. If he is not given an extension by a league-imposed deadline of Oct. 31, then the Clippers can't give him a new deal until next spring, when he promises to be gone, so why not trade him?
"That would be really sad, to lose him just because we don't want to pay him," said Piatkowski. "I mean, I don't think anybody disagrees that he's not worth the money."
Phil Jackson was asked about Scottie Pippen, and sounded hopeful.
"He's perfect for the kind of system I like to run," he said, adding, "If I had a checkbook maybe like Paul Allen [Portland owner], I could end it all."
Maurice Taylor was asked about Donald Sterling, and sounded insulted.
"He's never even spoken to me or my agent about the contract," he said.
The Lakers should be bigger with Jackson, with perhaps Kobe Bryant, Glen Rice and Rick Fox filling the 1-2-3 spots.
"You know guys under 6-4," Jackson said, laughing. " . . . they whine, they fall to the floor . . . "
There should be less open bickering among the Lakers under Jackson.
"I'm going to stop some of the gossiping, stop some of the rumor-mongering among the personnel here," he said.
The Lakers should make better music with Jackson.
"Where playground ball is like John Coltrane and jazz, this offense is like Mozart or Bach," he said.
The Clippers should be, well, uh, the Clippers.
"I feel really sorry for our fans," Taylor said. "I feel like they are getting cheated."
A good new Monday. And the same old Monday.