Something big, something definitive, is supposed to happen in Los Angeles tonight. Not saying it will, but if you’ve been paying attention to those who promote and report on the NBA, that’s the plan.
The wheels were set in motion last season, when Blake Griffin turned his official rookie campaign into an Albino Shawn Kemp mixtape, followed by Kobe Bryant experiencing a playoff series loss via sweep for the first time since 1999 – also the last time Kobe averaged less than 20 points per game as a pro. The wagon gained momentum this past December, when Chris Paul was traded to the L.A. Clippers days after a would-be trade sending CP3 to the L.A. Lakers fell apart. The wagon broke the speed limit when the Clippers beat the Lakers in two preseason games, and the pedal met the floor when Paul put up 33 points to lead the Clippers to a win over the Lakers in their first regular-season meeting on Jan. 14.
And so tonight, after the Clippers and Lakers play on NBA TV, your regularly scheduled sports media hyperbole machine must produce something definitive and bold to drive the headlines – even if it’s just a regular-season game in late January. Either the Clippers will be crowned by Twitter as L.A.’s “new” team while the Lakers suffer a sudden death; or the Lakers will lead “SportsCenter” as the front-runners to win the West; or some nationally respected reporter will begin co-signing Pau Gasol’s “Welcome to Orlando” postcard; or some loud-mouthed maniac with a wireless mic will put Kobe back atop the pedestal as the best player in the league.
Or, with Paul returning for his first game since injuring his hamstring earlier this month, the takeaway from Wednesday will be that Chris Paul is once again known as the best point guard in the world. Never mind that it’s just one game.