NBA in LA: Who Does Santa Clarita Root For?

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Given Santa Clarita is a part of Los Angeles County, it tends to share a lot in terms of culture and lifestyle with the metropolis of LA. There are regular celebrity sightings, like the time Shaquille O’Neal got takeout from a Papa Johns, and even a Netflix show based in the area, titled Santa Clarita Diet.

Residents have access to the Pacific Ocean, a stunning view of Los Angeles from the Sierra Pelona Mountains, and even a Six Flags Magic Mountain recreation area. Santa Clarita Valley seems to have the best of both worlds—though, maybe not when it comes to cheering on a beloved sports team.

For football fans, there’s the LA Rams. For hockey fans, there’s the Anaheim Ducks. For MLB fans, there’s the LA Dodgers. But in terms of rooting for an NBA team, residents are caught between the LA Lakers and the Clippers. 

In the past, the Lakers dominated the NBA’s western conference and made the choice simple for most residents. After all, it’s rewarding to cheer on a strong team. However, since the Clippers have become a competitive team in the league, more and more residents of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County have started to second-guess their allegiance.

A City Divided

In the past decade, the Clippers have gone from a notoriously hopeless franchise to a team that now stands a chance at advancing to the NBA Finals in August. This means that fans have either doubled-down on their love of the Lakers, or have abandoned ship to back up the Clippers.

In fact, since 2011, the Clippers have sold out their home games at the Staples Center—and they’ve managed to accomplish this year after year. The Clippers now hold the longest active streak of selling out tickets in the NBA. 

However, the Clippers have yet to make it to an NBA Finals, nonetheless, take home a Championship title. Meanwhile, the Lakers aren’t short on appearances or trophies. Since moving to Los Angeles, the Lakers have won twelve out of the fourteen NBA Finals they’ve entered.

Overwhelmingly, the city and county of Los Angeles tend to root for the Lakers. Fans love to point to the year 2009, when ESPN labeled the Clippers as the worst franchise of any major league sport.

The Underdog Allure

So, what makes the Clippers worth rooting for? And who do Santa Clarita locals back up?

The shortest explanation involves the hope and yearning of the underdog. All sports fans love a major upset when David overcomes Goliath in a show of talent and hard work. The Lakers may have beaten the Clippers 155 times out of the 222 games they’ve faced off against one another, but the Clippers’ undeniable comeback over the past decade is enough to worry even the staunchest Lakers fan.

And while opinions may vary greatly amongst residents regarding who deserves to win the upcoming NBA Finals at Walt Disney World in Florida, NBA betting odds from sites like FOX Bet provide season-long analysis to analyze which team is most likely to take the Championship.

Based on the regular-season play, the Lakers are likely to face off against the Milwaukee Bucks rather than the Clippers—but the margins are thin enough to have NBA fans itching for an outcome. We know Los Angeles tends toward the Lakers, but many beyond California are pulling for the Clippers.

And in LA, more than a few celebrities have thrown their hats into the ring in favor of the Clippers. The likes of Billy Crystal, Kadeem Hardison, and Anthony Anderson have all stepped up recently to don a Clippers jersey or hat.

Some, Anderson included, used to cheer for the Lakers, but after seeing more than few great games at the Staples Center, he changed his loyalty. Anderson cited the Clippers passionate play as a selling point, but also mentioned the solidarity he felt with other fans as they rooted together for the underdog.

However, the Lakers certainly have star power on their side. To date, celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Snoop Dog all staunchly support the Lakers.

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