After being dominated by Lakers basketball and USC football for much of the 2000s, the focus of the Los Angeles sports scene has now shifted to teams that were once on the periphery of Angelino Athletics.
The Los Angeles Clippers, who share the Staples Center with the Lakers, were until recently notorious for being mired in mediocrity after years of bad draft picks and decades of disappointing seasons.
“A lot of the time they were really hard to watch. And it was frustrating… [with] Laker fans always bragging about the countless championships and all,” said Kevin Reina, a Clipper fan of 13 years, when asked by JSR.
The Clippers have yet to win the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy, awarded to the NBA champion at the conclusion of every season. However, things are starting to turn around for the “Clipper Nation” as good managerial moves coupled with the decline of quality in Lakers basketball has made “LA’s other team” relevant. The Clippers, with their fresh new faces, are becoming increasingly confident, reaching the playoffs in all of the last three years and winning their season series with the Lakers for the last two.
This turnaround is not isolated to the Clippers franchise. Though the Dodgers and the Angels of Anaheim, the region’s two baseball teams, have combined for one World Series title in the last 25 years, the two organizations have begun to return to their winning ways and reignite excitement in their fans. In mid-August, both teams are likely to make the playoffs and either could win the Series this season.
Probably the most stunning team, however, is hockey’s Los Angeles Kings. Prior to 2011, the team had never won the Stanley Cup despite being established in 1966. With the emergence of Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, and Anze Kopitar, along with the veteran leadership of Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, and Jeff Carter, the Kings have won two of the last three NHL Championships and have created a rabid fan base excited with the prospect of successful years to come.
“I have to say, I hadn’t really been a great fan in the years past,” local high schooler Steven Kong admitted in an interview with JSR, “but now that the Kings are winning, it’s getting more and more fun to watch these guys play, buy their stuff, [and] wear their gear.”
These teams all have something in common: they have all boosted their clubs’ marketability over the past few seasons by adding big-name players to the mix and appealing to new communities. One such example is the Dodgers’ addition of established Korean superstar Ryu Hyun Jin. Since the signing, Korean bars, restaurants, and cafes across town have started to broadcast Dodger games to attract Korean fans, and the Dodgers have even started to host “Korean Nights” to accommodate the increasingly large Korean fanbase.
Now it is up to those teams to establish reputations as staying powers in their respective leagues by going beyond their newfound successes and proving to fans that they deserve their loyalty.