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Clippers vs. Lakers: 10 Reasons NBA Opener Is Must-See TV

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COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will add some West Coast flavor to NBA opening night Tuesday when they square off at Staples Center on the Lakers' home floor.

Besides it being the official start of the regular season for both, there are plenty of reasons to watch these two in-city rivals go at it.

Here are 10 of them:

1. Chris Kaman vs. Donald Sterling

Free-agent newcomer Chris Kaman has special insight into the Lakers-Clippers rivalry. Come Tuesday, he'll have suited up for both teams over the course of his career.

But the big man is all in with the Purple and Gold these days, and even had some parting shots for his former owner Donald Sterling.

(Via Serena Winters of Lakers Nation):

"I think before, the owner Donald Sterling didn't care about winning he cared about sharing his luxury money … I think it was all about save us much money as I can -- get as much highlight players and still people will come watch."


Wow.

Despite that, Kaman added that the Clippers alone provide he and his teammates with no extra motivation to win. It's still a fun story for fans on both sides to follow.

2. Matt Barnes vs. the Lakers

Career enforcer Matt Barnes is another player who's been on both sides of the L.A. basketball equator and has insight into the mindset of each squad's star players. After ex-Clippers swingman and one of the newest Lakers additions Nick Young sounded off about the dis-respectfulness of the Clips' decision to cover the Lakers' banners, Barmes had this to say via the Los Angeles Times:

"No one from that [Lakers'] team should have something to say unless it Kobe (Bryant) or Pau (Gasol) because they're the ones who put the banners up in the organization," Barnes said. "Any new players should have zero to say about that."


If there's an opportunity to mix it up, Barnes will take full advantage. He a self-glossed likes-to-fight-guy, and if (when?) things get chippy on the floor Tuesday night, he'll be in the middle of it.

3. Young vs. the Clippers

Lakers fans are going to enjoy Young this season. The L.A. native and former USC Trojan knows first-hand what the inner-workings of the Clippers' organization are like after playing there during the 2011-12 season.

When the question came up about what he thought of the Clippers' plans to cover up the Lakers' banners, he spoke his mind and called it disrespectful. That's what Barnes took exception to.

The funny thing is that Jordan Farmar was also with both of the Lakers' championship teams in 2009 and 2010, and also had a lot to do with their winning it all in each, so Barnes missed a couple of key facts.

But the banter is great fodder for the rivalry that no one wants to admit exists.

4. A new favorite

The Clippers are among the favorites to compete with for the Western Conference crown and make an appearance in the NBA Finals. The Lakers, however, have zero expectations. Just ask Las Vegas oddsmakers.

That means that the Lakers are now the clear-cut underdogs in the season series for the first time ever. Will the Lakers take exception to that and re-stake their claim to the city title?

5. Banner-gate 2013

The Clippers are going to go through with covering up the Lakers' banners and retired numbers as reported. Even though it's something the Clippers should have done a long time ago for their home games, it's caused a stir among NBA circles.

Young was vocal about it, and Barnes retorted, but for a Lakers home game, both parties will have to wait and see what Staples Center looks like under those circumstances until the Clips host the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 31.

6. Doc vs. the Lakers

Doc Rivers orchestrated the move to hide the banners, and it's a testament to the fact that the two teams will always hold a healthy disdain for one another.

The new lead man of the Clippers has an extensive history against the Lakers stemming from his playing days. He was a part of the 1994-95 San Antonio Spurs team that defeated the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals before falling to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference finals the same year.

As head coach of the hated Celtics, he took Boston to a 4-2 NBA Finals win against the Lakers that included a 131-92 shellacking to seal the championship in Game 6. The next year, the Lakers got the better of Rivers and rekindled the classic rivalry.

Doc joining the Clippers brings a big part of that rivalry closer to home than ever for the Lakers. Rivers is one of the best coaches in the NBA and now he coaches another sworn enemy when the Lakers are most vulnerable.

7. A bone for the haters

NBA fans either love or hate the Lakers, and there's little in-between or indifference. After years of Lakers dominance where they've made the playoffs an incredible 60 out of 66 seasons as a franchise, the team is wounded.

This could be the year that all who hate the Lakers get one of their few shots to revel in the potential disappointment in Laker Land. It could start on opening night with a healthier, younger Clippers team taking it to the depleted Lakers. Or, the Lake Show could make a statement that their not going to go down easily.

It'll be compelling theater.

8. It's Hollywood

As is always the case in the land of basketball hyperbole known as Los Angeles, there will be no shortage of sideshows going on at Staples Center. From the celebrities to the off-court drama, there will be some measure of theatrics taking place that doesn't involve basketball.

And that's OK. Those are the things that bring casual fans in. Maybe Lamar Odom will be in attendance?

9. No Kobe, but plenty of star power

Pau Gasol is back, and he'll be a featured component of the offense this season even with a healthy Bryant.

But without No. 24 in the lineup, Gasol will have to be a superstar again. Seeing how the Lakers will go about getting him the ball in a new-look offense without Dwight Howard will be worth paying attention to.

Steve Nash will play, and seeing how effective he'll be will be another development to look at.

And then there are the Clippers. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will headline the "Don't Call Us Lob City" act from the opening tip and put on a show. The transition game could get ugly considering the Lakers' defensive deficiencies, and it should be a high scoring affair -- at least on one end of the floor.

10. What will Staples Center look and sound like?

Just to remind everyone -- this is what supposed basketball fans in Southern California are capable of.

That means that it's conceivable that with the Clippers being the better team, that there will be more red and white than usual during a Lakers home game.

Allegiances are easily swayed when there's a talent disparity in the landscape of L.A. basketball, and now that it exists on the flip side of things, it'll be a fascinating case study.

That fact that all of that's possible, however, doesn't mean it's likely. The Lakers are still the kings of Los Angeles, and until the Clippers snatch that de-facto title from them by winning in bunches, the purple and gold will prevail in terms of fanfare.

Catch up with the author on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.

Michael C. Jones is a Southern California-based journalist and was Yahoo's 2012 Contributor of the Year. He is the founding editor of Sports Out West and also contributes to SB Nation.

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