During the 2019 offseason, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both joined the Los Angeles Clippers. Kawhi Leonard left the championship-winning Toronto Raptors in free agency to do so, while Paul George was acquired via a blockbuster trade.
There are many people who slated them as a future championship team immediately afterward, but thus far, the franchise has not yet achieved that goal. While they are not a championship team yet, when the team is fully healthy, they are absolutely a contender for the title. There was once a time where Stephen A. Smith himself believed the Clippers were better than the Lakers.
There has always been a rivalry between Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers simply because both franchises are in the same city. We definitely see some animosity between their fanbases, and there are definitely fans from both franchises that like to clown on each other. However, as Lakers fans outnumber Clippers fans in the city, there's generally more roasting directed at the Clippers franchise.
When speaking with the LA Times, Steve Ballmer commented on the Los Angeles Lakers fans who hate on the Los Angeles Clippers. He joked that Laker fans must be "pretty worried" about the Clippers, as they have "gotten pretty good". It is worth noting that the Los Angeles Clippers did have a fairly successful season, as they managed to get to the Western Conference Finals. That was also done without the services of Kawhi Leonard for a part of their run, as he was out with injury.
“Why did so many in the town cheer against us?At some points it gets like this ... for a long time the Clippers were nothing, so nobody had to pay attention, and for people who had been Lakers fans forever, there’s no threat.
We’ll, we’ve gotten pretty good. We’re actually serious, you can see we’re serious, we’re not the old screwed-up franchise in town, we’re getting our act together and I think because we’re getting our act together, it gets people like, ‘C’mon, you can’t get your act together, it’s just my team, my team is the only one that matters'
I have been surprised by animus from Lakers fans, and my message has sort of been, why, you don’t have enough confidence in your guys? There are 29 other teams you have to beat to win a championship, but you must be pretty worried about us. The Lakers are a great organization, a great franchise, but Laker fans, you must be a little worried about us.
There's no question that the Clippers have been more competitive in recent memory, and if they win a championship, they'll get even more respect. While the Lakers are the more established and accomplished franchise, there is certainly a fair amount of loyal fans that love the Clippers in Los Angeles. Winning the first championship in franchise history would definitely be special for them.
Hopefully, Kawhi Leonard comes back well from his injury next season, though his absence will certainly be a long one. It remains to be seen whether the Los Angeles Clippers will be able to win a championship in the upcoming years, but they certainly have the talent to do so.