After dying a slow and sad death over the past three seasons, the rivalry between the Warriors and Los Angeles has been resuscitated.
And transferred, with great glee, from the Clippers to the Lakers.
The announcement late Sunday afternoon that LeBron James has agreed to a four-year contract worth $154 million to join the Lakers creates conditions that give Warriors-Lakers games greater magnitude than they’ve ever had.
While the Warriors have been on their best run in franchise history -- four consecutive trips to The Finals, three championships -- the Lakers during that time have evolved from dreadful to a team with tremendous promise.
The addition of LeBron pushes that promise to reality.
And if James, along with Lakers president Magic Johnson, can persuade another impact player to come to LA, the Lakers are practically certain to go from five consecutive seasons without making the playoffs to the ability to make a deep run in the postseason.
Among the free agents still on the market as of Sunday afternoon are veteran center DeMarcus Cousins, young center Clint Capela and young forward Aaron Gordon. If the Lakers value athleticism, they’ll try to go young.
The arrival of James in LA creates the kind of buzz not heard since Magic Johnson was drafted 38 years ago. This is bigger than bringing in a rookie named Kobe Bryant in 1996 or rookie Lonzo Ball in 2017. It’s bigger than the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal -- who was joining a 53-win playoff team -- in ’96. And it’s exponentially bigger than the acquisition of Dwight Howard in 2012.
The Lakers are players, again.
They’ve always owned LA, even when the Clippers were going through their best years behind Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. All three are gone, one at a time, and it has created a star vacuum in LA that only James can single-handedly fill.
Suddenly, Warriors-Lakers will matter.
The Lakers have their megastar. James has his new start. The NBA has its must-see player in Hollywood. And the Warriors have their new rival.
Bring it on.