Yes, Jordan said, the Clippers and Lakers play in the same city, share the same arena and are both in the Pacific Division. Yes, the Clippers open the regular season Tuesday night against the Lakers in their designated home game.
But in Jordan’s eyes, it takes more than that for the Clippers and Lakers to have a rivalry -- like meeting in the playoffs, which the two teams have never done.
“I don’t think it’ll ever be a rivalry. You guys [in the media] want it to be, though,” Jordan said. “I would say Memphis more than the Lakers.”
That’s because the Clippers and Grizzlies have met in the first round of the playoffs the last two seasons. The Clippers won a thrilling Game 7 in Memphis during the 2012 playoffs, and the Grizzlies beat the Clippers in six games during the 2013 playoffs.
“I went to Texas A&M, and Texas was not a rival,” Jordan said. “They were Oklahoma’s rival, but I hated Texas. It’s not like that’s my rival, though. I hate every other NBA team in the league. If anybody [is our rival], I’d say Memphis.”
The Lakers have won 16 NBA championships, the Clippers none.
Last season, the Clippers did sweep the series, 4-0, from the Lakers for the first time in franchise history. And the Clippers did win their first Pacific Division championship.
“People are going to hype this game to be more than what it is,” Jordan said of Tuesday night's match-up. “But it’s just our Game 1 and a Western Conference team that we have to beat and a team in the league we have to beat. That’s it.”