Doc Rivers covers up Lakers title banners with Clippers posters at Staples Center
You can't be the kings of Los Angeles while playing under someone else's flag.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers has taken the extraordinary step of hanging massive posters that depict his players in the Staples Center's upper deck, where they can conveniently cover up the Lakers' 16 championship banners. The posters portray -- from left to right -- Jamal Crawford, Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan, Jared Dudley, Chris Paul and Matt Barnes in their home white jerseys.
Both the Lakers and Clippers have played their home games at the Staples Center since it opened in 1999.
During an NBA TV broadcast of a preseason game between the Clippers and Blazers on Friday, L.A.'s play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler discussed the new images, attributing their arrival to Rivers, who was hired by the Clippers as coach and senior vice president of basketball operations back in June.
"Doc Rivers has done a little bit of remodeling, redecorating in Staples Center," Lawler said. "At the end of the court down to our left, these Clippers banners have been put up. I guess the big story in the media tomorrow will be that they covered the Lakers championship banners. In fact, what Doc wanted most of all was to have a Clipper feeling to this building during Clippers games, and he's certainly accomplished that now. ... This building, all the way around, all 360 degrees now, it's clearly a Los Angeles Clippers home court when you walk in the building."
A rivalry with the Lakers is nothing new for Rivers, who coached the Celtics in the 2008 and 2010 Finals, prevailing in 2008.
"Listen, I think this is our arena when we play," Rivers told the Los Angeles Times. "So I just thought it would be good that we show our guys. No disrespect to them. But when we play, it's the Clippers' arena as far as I know."
Last season marked the first time in franchise history that the Clippers captured the Pacific Division title. This year, the Clippers are regarded as one of the favorites to win the Western Conference, while the Lakers are viewed as a fringe playoff team at best.
In April, Griffin said that he didn't think it was necessary for the Clippers to hang their division title banner in the Staples Center.
"It's something to be proud of and maybe there's a banner that goes up (in the training facility)," Griffin told ESPNLA.com. "But it's not something that needs to go up in Staples [Center], and we don't need to hang our hat on that."
Back in January, the Clippers extended their Staples Center lease through June 2024. The Lakers are midway through a 25-year lease that was signed in 1998. The Lakers and Clippers will meet on opening night, facing off at the Staples Center on Oct. 29. The crosstown rivals will also square off on Jan, 10, Mar. 6, and Apr. 6.