LOS ANGELES – There are several reasons to appear here for a little bitch in early January. There is sunshine and blue sky out of the window as far as the eye can see. Step out: drop the jacket, it's 70 degrees. Venice Beach bounces with life and energy. The ferris wheel cranks past the Santa Monica Pier. Surfers work the ocean waves.
At In-N-Out you can always get your fries animal.
But of course there is more. During this basketball winter, many great stories take place in places like Philadelphia, Boston and Denver, where good teams plan a break from the harsh weather. In Milwaukee, the Bucks were up to the Friday games between 31 and 5, a great show in every way. Billy Donovan kept the heads of thunder afloat. The partnership between Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis is a nightly pleasure in Dallas (if KP's knee doesn't go up anyway).
TV ratings may say otherwise, but it's hell of a time to be a basketball fan.
But above all here. Especially now. Oh, LA has almost always been a travel destination in every basketball season, since the early 1960s and since Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. When the Lakers stalled in recent years, the clippers had decent teams. This was not a pure market.
But that has never been the case.
It has never been the capital of professional basketball, night after night, week after week, and the two teams that call LA (and the Staples Center) play at such an unparalleled level.
It has never been home to – gulp – The City Game.
We have always been. It has always been New York – officially since Pete Axthelm christened it 50 years ago, but in truth decades ago. The "city" in City Game was never questioned and it was never questioned. Boston won a lot during that time. Chicago too. No one would ever give San Antonio such recognition, no matter how many titles the Spurs had won.
The Lakers have won all eleven of their California-based championships since Harper & # 39; s Magazine Press released "The City Game" in late autumn 1970.
The Clippers and Lakers will each receive the Knicks within three days from Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Knicks have played a lot better lately, which means that they haven't played ulcer-causing basketball every night like a month ago. They are 6-7 under the new trainer Mike Miller. And most notably, in the country of small samples, they have been the better basketball show of the two New York teams for a few weeks now, and the injuries are ultimately affecting the nets.
What you will experience on Sunday afternoon and Tuesday evening is the NBA's new Order of Merit. Both teams have their main stars – Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for Doc Rivers and the Clippers, LeBron James and Anthony Davis for Frank Vogel and the Clippers. They are currently ranked # 1 and # 3 in the west, which means the western conference is likely to be decided in seven games at the Staples Center in May and June.
And the taste we've got so far has been remarkable. The Clippers won on opening night 112-102 (a home game for them) and defeated the Lakers in one of the highly anticipated Christmas games in a while 111-106 (a home game of the Lakers). They play again on January 28th, then on March 8th. And then …
There has already been a little intrigue. Rivers that were never shy returned when someone asked about the clippers' tendency to rest Leonard (who will almost certainly stop knicks after Saturday's Grizzlies game): "It's our philosophy. I know not what theirs are. I think they own what LeBron says to be honest. "
It's all enough to give a New Yorker a terrible case of Hoop Envy. The Knicks and Nets hinted this seven years ago when the Knicks won 54 games and a playoff series and the Nets won 49 in their first season in Brooklyn and lost a game 7 against the Bulls at home. But that was about it, and even that wasn't all. The networks will probably be much more interesting when Kyrie Irving returns and Kevin Durant officially arrives. The Knicks will likely start all over again soon, hoping to get it right again …
Hoping to make The City Game our game again.
How long will it take?
For more information on the Knicks, see the latest episode of the Big Apple Buckets podcast: