Now, many people must be thinking that the Lakers and Spurs are not a real rivalry, not like Lakers and Celtics, or Yankees and Red Sox. But I must beg to differ. Over the last 10 years, nine of the last 10 Western Conference champions have come from this budding rivalry.
In that same span of time, the Lakers and Spurs have combined for seven NBA titles. That cannot be said for any other major sport. Plainly said, the Lakers and Spurs have been the best two teams in basketball over the last 10 years.
One thing that can’t be said about these two teams is that they haven’t played each other enough to be considered rivals. Since 1999, the Lakers and Spurs have faced each other six times, with L.A. winning four. Each time, the winner has gone on to the NBA Finals.
And each series has had its share of memorable moments, like Derek Fisher’s 0.4-second shot. Never have the emotions of two cities been toyed with so much in such a short period of time.
Whenever the Lakers and Spurs play, you can expect to get a great and extremely competitive game. This, along with all that was mentioned earlier, is why this is a great rivalry, my friends. But why has it been so under the radar?
Because of a variety of reasons.
First, the San Antonio Spurs are one of the unsexiest teams in the NBA. And that’s not me speaking, it’s the TV ratings. Not only that, but the Spurs are also void of marketable superstars. As solid as Tim Duncan and Company have been, they have not been exciting enough to make kids camp out all night to buy their shoes.
It’s hard for many sports fans to be interested in a rivalry when one of the teams involved is possibly one of the most boring teams ever.
Secondly, there is little hype going in when these two teams face each other. There is no trash talk. There are no preseason brawls. There is just good, solid basketball. And as any boxing promoter would tell you, a match with no hype is bad for business.
Why would ESPN and Sports Illustrated promote a rivalry with no hype, like bad blood or trash talking between coaches? Sure, there’s been some sarcastic remarks here and there, but nothing like “Sacramento Queens” or “We whup them every year in the playoffs.” If you want attention, you need to make noise.
Finally, this is not considered a rivalry because there has never been an epic series between these two teams. While they have had great games, they have never played a seventh game in the last 10 years. It’s always those long series that are the most memorable.
It’s a shame that Lakers and Spurs have not been regarded as a true rivalry. The teams have competed with each other for 10 years now. People have only been interested in Lakers-Kings, Lakers-Blazers, Cavs-Wizards, etc. Rivalries that have only lasted two or three years.
Hopefully, we can recognize that Spurs and Lakers is like the “Clash of the Titans,” featuring the two most successful NBA teams in recent years.
Hopefully, fans will catch on to the epic basketball they could be watching. And hopefully, we get one last great series between these two teams.