I read somewhere that the nature of civilizations supplanting each other often involves the necessary and calculated destruction of a place’s previous identity.
Without a blank slate, a new civilization puts itself at risk of those with memories rising up in the name of the old guard. Books especially are enemies of the new state. Anything that evokes sentiments, whether visual, literary, or oral, must be controlled and done away with.
I imagine that’s what it must be like when you’re a championship pedigree coach taking over a franchise that has long lived under the shadow of a more successful, older brother that occupies the same household. The memories of the past must completely be erased so that your new squad can fully harness their talents around an identity that diametrically opposes history.
A transformation that began with the arrival of Blake Griffin, sprouted with the addition of Chris Paul and now looks towards blossoming under tutelage from a bona fide coach, Doc Rivers. The Clippers have finally built themselves into a legitimate contender in the West, and with this new identity comes a new set of responsibilities that extend to the arena these Clippers play in.
With a new sense of purpose and direction, the Clippers recently decided that it was in their best interest to make their shared arena home games feel more like home games by installing Clippers posters over the hallowed Lakers championships banners hanging from Staples Center (an egregious act of arrogance worthy of utmost condemnation, at least according to Lakers Nation).
The culture is changing, and we want to be a winner. To do that, we have to make changes, and the one at Staples Center is one that I thought we needed to make. We don’t leave the Lakers floor down, do we? And they don’t play on the Clippers floor; they take it up. That’s all.
It’s no disrespect. I have an amazing amount of respect for the Lakers. Having said that, I work for the Clippers, and when we play, it should be the Clippers’ arena. I would say they probably feel the same way when they play. That’s all it is.
That anybody would dare cover up their precious banners could not be overlooked, especially when the culprit is ascending while the proud franchise struggles to keep players healthy. Mouths were agape and just as rapidly shut and turned into a vehicle of invective as Lakers fans failed to comprehend the logic behind this “disrespectful” move.
The current of disdain ran fierce through the fan base and was fortified by the reactions of players like Nick Young—the vanguard of the banner cause (never mind that he has yet to play an official regular season game in a Lakers uniform).
“He can do that? For real? That’s disrespectful. We got to talk to Doc. He can’t have that. We got to do something about that.
Even some members of the LA media expressed their dismay with ripples of discontentment:
I found the Clippers decision to cover up the Lakers banners and retired jerseys disrespectful. A rivalry is one thing, but this is too far
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) October 21, 2013
Those banners and retired jerseys are accomplishments of other men's lives. They should be respected, not covered up for marketing purposes
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) October 21, 2013
With all due respect to Ms. Shelburne, someone who I very much admire as a writer and as a reporter, the legacies of those men are in no way tarnished, nor do they disappear, just because the Clippers cover them up on any given night. Nor will this take away any of the numerous championships the Lakers currently possess—Lakers Nation’s most admirable feature, after all, is their clockwork mentions of just how many championships they’ve won (how many was it again?).
There were, however, a few sensible people, including another Lakers player by the name of Steve Nash, that showed common sense bordering on lunacy after having heard the news:
I guess if you were in the Clippers’ organization you probably want to do that, too. It’s their arena on their night, so I would try to make it feel like home.
The Clippers are entitled to do as they see fit when it’s their night in the arena. That covering up the banners feels as deeply insulting as it does for some who act out with rage only puts emphasis on how much some fans use these banners as a symbol of justification for their sense of entitlement and their bad attitude towards others; yes, I think that’s the part I hate the most about the banners dialogue.
Aside from that, I will admit that this seemingly harmless event has left me amused because of the extent to which this action upsets some Lakers fans, including some of my very own personal friends.
These banners have been shoved in our face for so long, and now without warning, they’ve been temporarily undressed for what they truly are: objects that can easily disappear.
Take a deep breath, Lakers fans, count to 10 and then take umbrage in the fact that even if you can’t see them, they’re still there and everybody knows it. TWC’s Francisco Pinto broke it down best (in Spanish and English no less):
Covered banners? "Even if we don't see it, the sun is always there" "Aunque no lo veamos, el sol siempre está".
— Francisco Pinto (@PintoLakers) October 20, 2013
The fact of the matter is, we can’t control what these teams do and don’t do. They’re both rightful tenants of alternating nights at the downtown hoops dojo. While the prestige of championships past carry clout in NBA circles, they don’t exactly pay Staples Centers bills for that other team.
Regardless of how much they’re hidden from the public eye, those banners will always shine through. We all know they’re there. So – as my dear friend Nacho Libre would say – mucho take it easy, Lakers… relax and let the Clippers be the Clippers.
Count it! #andthefoul