There is a certain intangible when someone mentions the Clippers and Lakers this season. There's a feeling of rivalry, playoffs, and championship expectations. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss believes there is no rivalry between the teams.
Jeanie discussed the rivalry between the two western conference powerhouses on the "Daddy Issues Podcast" with Joe Buck and Oliver Hudson.
"The Clippers are one of the 29 teams that’s trying to beat us," Buss said. "They’re a competitor and I want to beat all of the other teams, including Michael Jordan’s team in Charlotte, our friends in Boston and in Milwaukee."
It's a stance similar to what Doc Rivers says about the Lakers. One where it's not so much about the Lakers being a rival, but one where LA is simply a top team in their way. Jeanie believes a playoff series is what's necessary for a rivalry to be made.
"You can’t build a rivalry until there is a rivalry," Buss said. "I mean that in terms of we’ve never played them in the playoffs. Whereas with Boston, we can go back and go, ‘Remember when this happened? Remember when that happened?’ All of our playoff experience against Boston, that’s a rivalry because you have a history. We just haven’t had a history with the Clippers in the playoffs.”
To a degree, Jeanie Buss is largely correct. The Lakers have had legitimate rivalries with the Boston Celtics, and the San Antonio Spurs. Those are teams that have literally cost them a championship in the playoffs - there is no such thing as a regular-season rivalry.
Despite that, the Lakers and Clippers can't ignore the apparent rivalry they have with each other. Both teams have been clearly taking shots at each with their marketing campaigns all season. Their players clearly can't stand each other. Both Patrick Beverley and LeBron James have roared at road crowds after a game-winning play. It's not an ordinary regular-season game.
At the end of the day, the only thing left for the Clippers and Lakers to do is play each other in the playoffs. One must win, and one must lose, in the ultimate chase for glory.