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T.J. SIMERS

Clippers are still playing second fiddle to Lakers in L.A.

Despite winning the Pacific Division, the Clippers' playoff series with Memphis seems to be an afterthought when compared to the Lakers' taking on San Antonio.

April 20, 2013|T.J. Simers
  • Clippers forward Caron Butler collides with Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) while trying to defend forward Tayshaun dribbles in the first half Saturday night.
Clippers forward Caron Butler collides with Grizzlies center Marc Gasol… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

The Clippers have now sold out 92 straight home games with Saturday night's playoff victory in Staples Center.

I have always thought it fascinating that there are 19,060 Clippers fans in all of Southern California and every one of them goes to every home game.

Everyone else around here, of course, is a Lakers fan.

There's been more talk this week about Antawn Jamison's seven-second pause on the radio when asked about Coach Mike D'Antoni than Lob City's stirring season.

More kudos to the Lakers for keeping D'Antoni because he beat the No. 8 seed in the season finale in overtime, and why wouldn't that be enough to bring him back?

There's been more attention shown to Kobe Bryant, who is busy conducting a “Please, don't forget me” Twitter campaign complete with pictures of himself in a hospital gown.

By the way, we've also seen Bryant standing on crutches and posing for a picture with Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss and D'Antoni. He really does have a lot to overcome.

ESPN, meanwhile, has spent so much time this season pumping up the Lakers, you would think Tim Tebow was on the roster.

When it comes to a Clippers buzz, nothing.

Even the franchise doesn't seem all that excited. The team passed out T-shirts Saturday night that read: “Clippers” on the front and “playoffs” on the back. Ho-hum.

And what does it say when a writer from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, known best in the shopper business for tweeting pictures of his puppies, takes more interest in our Clippers heroes than we do?

Blake Griffin is an over-inflated product of the American advertising industry,” wrote the Memphis writer, and how juvenile is it to make fun of someone just because they're from a different city?

Newspaper writers should be better than that.

Chris Paul may be the whiningest superstar in the league,” continued the Memphis writer, accuracy not his strong point. Between Paul, Marc & Pau Gasol, I'm not sure Paul even finishes in the top two.

Lamar Odom tanked a whole season when he played in Dallas,” wrote the guy, and maybe the people in Memphis are OK with someone being so cruel. Yet, I worry about the puppies.

But so it goes for the Clippers, the only folks who seemingly care about them now living in the fine city of Memphis.

Now there's no question the Lakers lead the league in drama. But when the playoffs begin, shouldn't it be all about winning? And who has the best chance to do that?

“Can the Lakers hang with the Spurs?” I asked Vinny Del Negro.

“No,” he said.

The only question remaining is do the Clippers have what it takes to get noticed?

They beat the Grizzlies in Memphis a year ago, so no big whoop if they do it again. That's why the immediate interest in San Antonio.

The Times sent the first string there to write about the Lakers because the Lakers showed so much promise in placing seventh rather than eighth.

But that left the second string here to cover a 7:30 p.m. Clippers game with a 9 p.m. deadline. No problem. I just approached it like Jamie McCourt did her divorce settlement with Frank.

I picked a reasonable number, the Clippers winning, 91-84, and figured if I was really off the mark I'd just come back later, adjust and throw myself on the mercy of the court.

I also checked with Del Negro before the game, and asked if I could write Jamal Crawford was the star of Game 1.

“Absolutely,” said Del Negro, and so I'm sure by now the Clippers lead the series, 1-0.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Memphis stinks. Our columnist was too kind, the Clippers winning, 112-91, with his favorite player, Paul, dominating the game.)

The Clippers still have much more to do. The oddsmakers have made them 13-2 choices to represent the West in the NBA Finals, while the Lakers are 25-1.

And yet the Lakers continue to get 100 times as much attention as the Clippers because they think San Antonio is vulnerable. Ha!

I understand the Lakers' fascination; they have 412 more playoff wins than the Clippers have played playoff games.

But that's history and most of us slept through that class.

If the Clippers want to overcome being ignored, it's on them right now. They beat Memphis last season, then were swept by San Antonio.

This time when they beat Memphis, they will go to Oklahoma City. What a great opportunity to shock the world and get everyone talking about them.

Maybe those are the T-shirts they should have been passing out: Time to Shock the World!

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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