It's an exciting time for Southern California sports. Staples Center just hosted four playoff games in three days, and has two more in store Sunday. The Kings are serious contenders to win the Stanley Cup. The Lakers and Clippers, though, have a much tougher challenge ahead of them.
Having grown up in sunny Southern California, what I knew about hockey could fill about half of a thimble. But I have rooted for the Lakers since the days of Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlin and Elgin Baylor, and I have always empathized with the traditionally inept Clippers. Both teams performed better than expected in the regular season, but the playoff outlook is not bright.
The Lakers have been a premier franchise since they arrived in Southern California. They came from Minnesota, which is why perpetually drought-stricken Southern California has a team nickname connoting a life on inland water. They have won multiple NBA championships thanks to great players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. On paper, this year's Lakers still look like they should dominate, but the series with Oklahoma City has exposed their weakness.