AFP/ Los Angeles, United States
The first chapter in the most compelling storyline of the new NBA season will be written tomorrow as LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers face off against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nearly 10 years after Los Angeles last celebrated an NBA championship, the Californian metropolis is now being billed as the basketball capital of the world.
The reasons for the mounting sense of excitement are not difficult to pinpoint.
The Lakers dramatically restructured their roster to add the talents of Anthony Davis to their line-up, providing James with an elite foil as he bids to turn the iconic franchise into championship contenders.
The Clippers, meanwhile, secured the Los Angeles-born Leonard from the Toronto Raptors after the 28-year-old led the Canadians to the NBA Finals crown.
Leonard will form a formidable partnership with six-time All-Star Paul George, another Southern California native who was recruited from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The glittering casts of the Lakers and Clippers are virtually guaranteed to deliver blockbuster entertainment.
And the clamour for tickets is such that courtside seats for Tuesday’s season-opener at the Staples Center were changing hands for $21,400 each on Friday.
But while the basketball world is eagerly anticipating what is being hyped as the ‘Battle for Los Angeles’, the central protagonists have so far been doing their best to play down expectations.
“For me I haven’t really thought about it,” James said in a recent interview when asked about the prospect of the Lakers-Clippers rivalry.
“I don’t like to harp on rivalries. I love what we’re able to do with our ball club and what we have. I’m not here for the narrative and to talk much.
“I’m here to be in the present of this Lakers franchise and team and figure out how we can be as great as we can be.”
Others however wonder whether the story of the rivalry will be less about the Lakers vs the Clippers and more about LeBron vs Kawhi.
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